Boeing T-7 suffers delays due to parts shortages, defect

Boeing T7 suffers delays
Boeing T-7A Red Hawk advanced training jets.

The US Air Force is cutting funding for its Boeing T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer jet due to technical problems that emerged during testing, which delayed mass production of the aircraft by at least a year.

The Service said multiple problems are inhibiting the Red Hawk's progress towards production. For example, full-scale production has been postponed from 2022 to 2023 due to a shortage of critical parts from suppliers, initial delays in design and the need for further testing after the 'discovery of aircraft wing rock', which means the T-7 can be unstable in the roll axis at high angles of attack.

US Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr. reassured members of the House Armed Services Committee on June 16 that despite diminished funding, they remain committed to replacing the old T-38 Talon with the T-7.

In 2020, the US Air Force touted the revolutionary use of digital engineering for the T-7. Digital engineering uses advanced computer models and simulations and technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to rapidly process hardware designs and verify how various configurations would work in the real world without building a physical prototype.

However, this approach appears to have proved to be a double-edged sword as "there is inherent program risk due to the aggressive nature of the program," USAF recently said.

The US Air Force said it is continuously investigating ways to improve the program and is working with Boeing with the goal of a mass production decision in fiscal year 2023. Previous acquisition reports foresaw such a decision to be made in 2022.

Boeing said in February that the first production aircraft will roll out in early 2022. The first T-7 fit for flight will be delivered in 2023 and the first squadron is expected to be operational in 2024, with full operational capability in 2034. The company has plans to make up to five deliveries per month, with USAF planning to purchase 351 T-7A jets.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: Boeing

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