Boeing Moves First T-7A Section Into Final Assembly

T-7A Red Hawk
T-7A Red Hawk
Credit: Boeing

Boeing has advanced the U.S.-designed forward fuselage of the first T-7A Red Hawk training jet into final assembly in St. Louis, the company announced on Feb. 23. 

The first rear fuselage, which is assembled by Saab in West Lafayette, Indiana, will arrive in final assembly later. 

The move activates the final assembly line nearly 29 months after the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract to supply 351 jets and 46 simulators to replace the Northrop T-38C Talon. 

During the competition for the T-X contract, Boeing and Saab flew the first of two prototypes three years after the design reached the firm concept stage. 

The T-7A is the first military aircraft to enter production since the Air Force embraced the model-based systems engineering process. The industry team developed a “digital twin” of the so-called eT-7A, allowing designers to simulate how engineering changes would impact the cost of manufacturing and sustainment, as well as any impacts on aerodynamic performance.

“By creating aircraft and systems along a digital thread, we can accelerate build times and increase quality and affordability for our customers in a way that has never been done before,” Boeing senior vice president of Strike, Surveillance and Mobility Shelley Lavender said. 

Boeing plans to deliver the first aircraft to the Air Force in 2023, followed by entry into service a year later. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.