US Air Force Faces Two-Year Delay on T-7A Red Hawk Production

The US Air Force will have to wait two more years before its first T-7A Red Hawk supersonic advanced jet trainer enters production.

The aircraft will enter production in February 2025 and be delivered to the service later that year, Breaking Defense reported.

It is expected to achieve initial operational capability in 2027 – nearly two years beyond original expectations.

A series of design issues, particularly with the Red Hawk’s emergency escape system, has been cited as the reason for the delay.

The air force has reported other problems, including aerodynamic instability, pre-flight testing and hardware qualification challenges, subcontractor initial design delays, and contractor inability to rapidly correct deficiencies.

“Boeing and the US Air Force recently undertook a joint effort to re-baseline the schedule, arriving at a new Milestone-C date of no later than February 2025,” Boeing said, as quoted by the outlet.

“Boeing and the USAF are partnered on a path forward regarding the escape system and qualifying the system to ensure aircrew will have the safest egress system in any trainer.”

‘A Top Risk’

In May last year, Boeing delivered the first T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer aircraft to the US Air Force for pilot testing and evaluation.

The company explained that it is a “fully digitally designed aircraft” built using advanced manufacturing, agile software development, and digital engineering technologies.

However, several reports have noted some “worrying” test results, including a high risk of concussions and unsafe acceleration when a parachute opens.

They also cited the possibility that a pilot’s helmet visor could fly off at high speed if an operator needs to punch out.

The Government Accountability Office also flagged the Red Hawk’s emergency escape system as a top risk to the program’s schedule.

The US Air Force is spending $9.2 billion for 351 T-7As to replace its aging T-38 Talon jet trainer.

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