The U.S. Air Force is planning to roll out its digitally engineered T-7A Red Hawk trainer in St. Louis next week.
Boeing [BA] and Sweden’s Saab are the prime contractors on the plane, while Elbit Systems of America–a subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems [ESLT]–builds the aircraft’s cockpit and embedded training system.
The T-7A test program achieved its 400th test flight in January and has been sharing the flight test data between Boeing personnel in St. Louis and program officials at Edwards AFB, Calif. (Defense Daily, Feb. 10).
Last year, Boeing and Saab joined the aft and front sections of the T-7A in less than 30 minutes, a feat accomplished in 95 percent less time than is typical and with significant quality improvements, Boeing has said. The company attributed the advances in manufacturing to the digital engineering efforts used by the program.
Boeing builds the front section of the aircraft in St. Louis and Saab the aft portion in Sweden.
“The T-7 will have a capability, as you fly, for the system to simulate different threats, different scenarios, in the air, and all that software–all that capability–is something that we developed and integrated together with Boeing,” Elbit Systems of America CEO Raanan Horowitz told Defense Daily in an interview this week.
Boeing has said that the digital design, engineering and manufacturing of the aircraft will lead to a 50 percent improvement in overall production quality and as high as a 98 percent reduction in drilling defects.
Boeing said in February last year that it had begun production of the trainer for the Enginering and Manufaturing Development (EMD) phase.
In September 2018, Boeing and Saab won a potential $9.4 billion Air Force contract for 46 simulators and 351 aircraft, which are expected to replace the service’s T-38 Talon fleet. Boeing has said that the award was the culmination of five to six years of work by the company.
After completion of EMD production, Saab’s plant in West Lafayette, Ind., is to build the T-7A aft sections.
On Apr. 21, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) mobility and training aircraft directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio said that it is soon to begin the third phase of lab testing of the On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) for the T-7A.
The second lab testing phase featured man and unmanned centrifuge testing in gradual and rapid onset rates up to 8.5Gs, AFLCMC said.
Jessica Allen, the directorate’s T-7A crew systems lead, said in a statement that the T-7A’s OBOGS configuration has not been on another aircraft and will have a primary breathing gas system and an auxiliary backup oxygen system.
After the completion of phase three, five T-7As are to receive the OBOGS system for flight testing later this year, per AFLCMC.