Second aft section produced for T-7A programme

Saab has shipped the second aft airframe section from the company’s Linköping site in Sweden to Boeing in St Louis, Missouri, for use in the T-7A Red Hawk flight test programme.

The July 24 milestone is the latest step in the T-7A programme, which will see up to 400 jet trainers built for the US Air Force, replacing the older T-38 Talon aircraft currently in service. In April 2021, Saab delivered its first T-7A Red Hawk aft airframe section for assembly as a ground-based structural testing aircraft.

Aft T-7A section
The structure of the T-7A jet trainer programme will see Saab produce the aft sections at sites initially in Sweden, before switching to the US. Saab

Upon completion of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) production phase, Saab’s new US-based facility in West Lafayette, Indiana, will undertake the company’s production of the aft airframe sections for the T-7A programme.

Boeing will splice together Saab’s aft section with the front section, wings, fins and tail assembly to become a complete test aircraft for use in the EMD’s flight test programme. The aft section with installed subsystems - hydraulics, fuel and secondary power system - forms the centre structure of the aircraft from behind the cockpit to the end of the aircraft.

The T-7A Red Hawk is based on the preceding T-X aircraft, which went from concept to first flight in 36 months.

It was recently reported that Saab envisaged the Milestone C landmark, the point at which a programme moves into the production and deployment phase, could be met in late-2022 ahead of moving to a more stable low-rate initial production in 2023.

The programme was reported earlier this year to purportedly be over a year behind schedule and saw a dip in FY2022 funding requests from US$206m to US$189m.