The US Air Force (USAF) has accepted its first of five Boeing T-7A Red Hawk.
The aircraft, received at Edwards Air Force Base in California, is expected to begin flight tests soon.
Considered the most advanced training aircraft in the force, the T-7As are set to replace more than 400 of the USAF’s Northrop T-38 Talon supersonic jet trainers, which has been their go-to trainer aircraft for more than 60 years.
All five Red Hawks are under the USAF’s Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) program, where they will undertake quality checks and flight tests.
Air Force Life Cycle Management Center T-7 Program Manager Col. Kirt Cassell led the acceptance ceremony, where he stressed the importance of the team’s modernization plans.
“There has been a lot of effort over the last couple months to get through first flight and now aircraft acceptance. We are excited to get these EMD aircraft into flight test,” he said.
A Muddy Timeline
The $9.2 billion T-7A program contract was awarded to Boeing in 2018. The production experienced a number of setbacks leading up to the USAF’s acceptance of the first aircraft.
Reports of Boeing acquiring $1.1 billion in losses due to development flaws surfaced early this year, including problems with its ejection seat and digital flight control systems.
Its current target of operational capability in 2027 is two years beyond the force’s initial plans, but Boeing and USAF have undertaken a joint effort to re-baseline the production and deployment schedule to expedite the process.