Because of technical issues the USAF is requesting limited funding for the T-7A Red Hawk.
Multiple issues are inhibiting the T-7A Red Hawk next-generation trainer’s progress toward production, the US Air Force (USAF) said in a statement. According to Air Force Magazine for example, the Milestone C decision, or full-rate production, slipped from 2022 to 2023 because of supplier-side critical parts shortages, initial design delays, and the need for more testing after the “discovery of aircraft wing rock,” which means the T-7 can be unstable in the roll axis when flying at high angles of attack.
Because of these technical issues the USAF is requesting limited funding for the T-7A (the 2022 budget request calls for $188.9 million in research, development, test, and evaluation funding for the T-7. Below the $206.4 million projected for fiscal 2022 in the 2021 budget request’s future year defense program).
However, the service remains committed to replacing its aging T-38s with the T-7 Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said on Jun. 16, 2021.
“Our focus and commitment to the T-7 has not waned,” Brown said.
Designed using a digital thread, the T-7A aligns with the US Air Force’s Digital Century Series strategy by enabling the integration of new concepts and capabilities faster and more affordably through virtual testing. Then-Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett announced in September 2020 that Boeing’s Red Hawk trainer jet would be the first plane to earn an “e” designation, as the eT-7A, signifying it was designed and tested using digital engineering. The advanced trainer will provide future fighter and bomber pilots with fundamental and tactical training for 5th generation aircraft.
However, officials told Air Force Magazine on June 16 there is an “inherent schedule risk because of the aggressive nature of the program’s schedule.”
The T-7 APT program office is “continuously analyzing methods to improve schedule” and is working with Boeing with the goal of a Milestone C production decision in fiscal 2023.
In September 2018, the USAF awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract to supply 351 advanced trainer aircraft and 46 associated ground-based training simulators. Saab is teamed with Boeing on the trainer and provides the aft fuselage of the jet.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force