Co-developed by Boeing and Saab, the T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer is making progress. The project is still in the EMD phase (Engineering and Manufacturing Development), but there is another milestone to report. For the first time a pilot of the United States Air Force (USAF) the T-7A Red Hawk.
The first flight, which took place in St. Louis on June 28, lasted 63 minutes. Pilot Bryce Turner of the 416th Flight Test Squadron and Boeing T-7 chief test pilot Steve Schmidt flew in front of an international audience and senior officials from Boeing and Saab AB.
The aircraft trainer is expected to be operational by 2024, when it will replace the USAF's aging Northrop T-38s. Commenting on the successful event, Erik Smith, President and CEO of Saab North America said:
The first flight of the T-7A by an active Air Force pilot is a historic achievement for the program - and a tribute to years of hard work and dedication from Saab and Boeing.
Saab produces the tail of the T-7A Red Hawk
The flown T-7A is one of seven machines produced during the EMD phase, with the tail section coming from the Linköping plant. The site (Link) is a traditional aircraft factory of Saab AB, which even built cars for a short time in its long history.
The first series of the Saab 95, the station wagon variant of the 96, was produced in Linköping from 1959 because there was no free capacity in Trollhättan at the time. The production was complex, the bodies were brought from Linköping to Trollhättan by train to be painted. At the station, the wagons were placed on a road roller and pulled the last few kilometers to the factory.
For final assembly, the 95 bodies rolled in the opposite direction in the railway wagons.
The plant has existed since 1937. With 6.000 jobs, it is the most important employer in Östragötland. 5.000 aircraft have rolled out of the halls since it was founded. All with the Saab names. And there are more and more.
But Saab is international and has long since stopped producing in Sweden alone. For future series production of the T-7A, tail manufacture will move to the new West Lafayette, Indiana plant. The Saab location is also used by the USAF for pilot training.
Images (1) courtesy of Saab AB