1,400-mile cross-country flight
The first Boeing T-7A Red Hawk successfully arrived at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California on Nov. 8, 2023, completing a 1,400-mile cross-country flight. This milestone formally commences the Air Force’s developmental flight test campaign for the aircraft, aimed at fielding a replacement pilot training capability for the 1960’s-era Northrop T-38 Talon.
As told by Chase Kohler , 412th Test Wing, in the article T-7A Red Hawk Arrival at Edwards AFB Reflects Integrated Team Effort, the aircraft, known as APT-2, is the first production representative jet off the assembly line and was piloted by a joint US Air Force and Boeing aircrew. The journey to Edwards included stops at Vance AFB, Okla., Kirtland AFB, N.M., and Luke AFB, Ariz to refuel and offer base employees a firsthand look at the new advanced trainer before the final leg to Edwards.
The first T-7A Red Hawk
“This arrival marks an exciting transition into the next phase of developmental flight” noted Maj. Aronoff, T-7A test pilot. “The T-7A gives immense capability updates that will allow the Air Force to train the next generation of combat aviators. Success of first delivery is truly a testament to the joint USAF-industry team we have in place” added Aronoff.
“This is a pivotal moment for the T-7 program,” said Evelyn Moore, vice president and program manager, T-7 programs, in a Boeing news release. “Bringing the T-7A Red Hawk to the heart of the US Air Force’s test community at Edwards for dynamic flight testing will prove the jet’s performance as an agile and safe trainer for future pilots.”
Collaboration in the cockpit
The collaboration in the cockpit represents the construct of the T-7A Integrated Test Force, which will see Air Force and Boeing team members working shoulder-to-shoulder to rapidly test and certify the aircraft. The T-7A team has been leveraging digital transformation through Distributed Test Operations since 2019. This method allows seamless networked capability between Boeing’s facilities in St. Louis and mission control rooms at Edwards. The T-7A ITF is part of the larger Airpower Foundations Combined Test Force at Edwards, in association with the 416th Flight Test Squadron.
Test pilots have been busy rehearsing missions in the simulator and will quickly begin to fly up to three times daily, utilizing APT-2 for envelope expansion testing before moving into mission systems. The T-7A ITF will utilize a mix of both Air Force and contractor-owned aircraft to swiftly bring cutting edge capability to train the next generation of warfighters.
Two other T-7A Red Hawk trainers to arrive at Edwards AFB
Once Air Force test pilots are familiar with the aircraft, they will expand the flight envelope starting with flutter testing. Two other Red Hawks will follow to test various flight attributes and systems as part of a rigorous series of tests.
“Like most test programs, we’ll have discovery and we’ll overcome it quickly,” said Col. Kirt Cassell, division chief, US Air Force, T-7A Red Hawk program. “This is the right team to go after any challenges we find.”
In 2018, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract for 351 T-7A advanced trainers, 46 simulators and support.
The T-7A notched its first Air Force-piloted flight on Jun. 28 in historic fashion.
Boeing delivered the first Red Hawk to the Air Force on Sept. 15.
Photo credit: Bryce Bennett and Todd Schannuth / U.S. Air Force