Air Force’s T-7A Trainer to Begin Next Phase of Flight Testing

The Red Hawk jet will replace the 1960s-era T-38 trainer and was designed to train both fighter and bomber pilots.

The first T-7A Red Hawk, piloted by U.S. Air Force test pilot Major Jonathan “Gremlin” Aronoff and Boeing test pilot Steve “Bull” Schmidt, soars over Edwards Air Force Base, California, on November 8, prior to arrival. The T-7A will replace the 1960s-era T-38 aircraft by providing advanced pilot training capabilities for aviators learning to fly both tactical and bomber aircraft. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

The U.S. Air Force's first Boeing T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer has logged its first cross-country flight and is set to begin the next phase of flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The T-7A—known as APT-2—was designed to train Air Force fighter and bomber pilots and replace the 1960s-era T-38 trainer. Its iconic red-tail livery honors the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, the U.S. Army Air Forces’ first Black aviation unit to serve. 

The Air Force's $9.2 billion purchase of the Boeing advanced trainer includes 351 T-7A jets, 46 simulators, and support.

The first T-7A Red Hawk taxis at Edwards Air Force Base, California. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

The trainer jet, which is the first production representative aircraft to come off the assembly line, was flown to Edwards AFB on Wednesday following fuel stops at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; and Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, the Air Force said.

"This arrival marks an exciting transition into the next phase of developmental flight,” said Major Jonathan "Gremlin" Aronoff, a T-7A test pilot.

Air Force test pilots, who have rehearsed missions in a simulator, will now fly up to three times a day, expanding flight envelope testing before progressing into mission systems, the service said.

Air Force test pilots will expand the flight envelope with flutter testing. Following that, two additional aircraft will then be integrated for flight attributes and systems testing, Boeing said.

"Bringing the T-7A Red Hawk to the heart of the U.S. Air Force’s test community at Edwards for dynamic flight testing will prove the jet’s performance as an agile and safe trainer for future pilots," said Evelyn Moore, vice president and program manager of T-7 programs at Boeing.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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