In a factory in St. Louis, Missouri, that once helped launch the U.S. space program, the Air Force’s next generation of training aircraft is taking shape.
The Boeing T-7A Red Hawk trainer jet is an all-new training system built specifically for the Air Force’s mission, giving the U.S. Air Force a flexible design that can adapt as technologies and training needs change. And Boeing officials are excited about its future potential — not just as a trainer to teach new pilots, but also as a model for how to build future aircraft.
The high-tech methods Boeing used to design and build the T-7A are saving time, simplifying processes, improving quality and cutting down on defects.
In 2021, Boeing completed its first digital splice of the T-7A, joining the front fuselage perfectly with its aft section in less than 30 minutes. Using model-based engineering and 3D design, this digital splice was completed in 95% less time than traditional splices.
“Everything’s in 3D, everything’s digital,” Boeing Vice President and T-7A Program Manager Paul Niewald said. “It’s an authoritative source of data. So, our technical publications, our flight manuals, our service manuals, they all use the same data that the engineers are using, that our mechanics are using to build the airplane.”
The T-7A Red Hawk is being produced in Missouri, along with the F/A-18, EA-18, F-15, MQ-25 unmanned refueler, and a large amount of munitions.