Last week, Saab AB celebrated the first roll-out of the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk. The jointly developed project by Saab and Boeing is progressing, the T-7A is in the EMD phase (Engineering and Manufacturing Development). It is an important milestone for Saab, as more than 1000 employees are involved in this project. The rear fuselage of the T-7A Red Hawk is produced entirely at Saab's state-of-the-art facility in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The project between Boeing and Saab started with a signature in December 2013. Prior to that, the new US Air Force (USAF) training aircraft had been negotiated for 3 years. The TA Red Hawk will replace the outdated Northrop T-38 and will be operational by 2024. The modern training jet is also in the tradition of a Saab 105, an aircraft trainer from the 1960s.
The T-7A is nicknamed the Red Hawk, which is reflected in the red tail fins and is a political statement. Because this is how Boeing and Saab honor the Tuskegee Airmen.
Who were the Tuskegee Airmen?
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African Americans allowed to enter the USAF. That was in 1940 and happened against great resistance in the armed forces. Until then, African Americans were denied the pilot's seat. The Tuskegee Airmen formed the 332d and 447 Fighter Groups, both units were active until 1948.
Many of the Tuskegee Airmen paid for the use against the German Reich with their lives. Her fight against racism in the USAF even inspired Hollywood to film her story in 1995. Under the name "Tuskegee Airmen", which was shown in German cinemas as "The honor to fly", director Robert Markowitz created a cinematic monument to the pioneers of yore.
As a distinguishing feature, the pilots of the 447 Fighter Group painted the rear wings of their P-47 Thunderbolt red, and were nicknamed the Red Hawk. Since December 19, 2019, the T-7A has officially borne the nickname Red Hawk, commemorating these aviation pioneers.
Images courtesy of Saab AB