U.S. Air Force’s new trainer aircraft officially named T-7A Red Hawk to honor the legacy of tuskegee airmen

U.S. Air Force’s new trainer aircraft officially named T-7A Red Hawk to honor the legacy of tuskegee airmen

U.S. Air Force’s new trainer aircraft officially named T-7A Red Hawk to honor the legacy of tuskegee airmen, the nation’s first squadron of African American pilots who flew combat missions during World War II.

The all-new advanced trainer aircraft, the T-X, has officially been named the T-7A Red Hawk.

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan announced on Monday that the service’s advanced trainer aircraft, the T-X, has officially been named the T-7A Red Hawk. The aircraft will feature a distinctive red tail that pays tribute to the signature red tails painted on the Tuskegee airmen’s planes 75 years ago.

U.S. Air Force’s new trainer aircraft officially named T-7A Red Hawk to honor the legacy of tuskegee airmen
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan reveals the name of the new Air Force trainer aircraft to be the T-7A Red Hawk during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 16, 2019. Photo by Myles Cullen

One of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, retired Col. Charles McGee, was on stage at the 2019 Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Maryland on Monday as the T-7A Red Hawk was unveiled. McGee, 99, flew more than 400 combat missions in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

U.S. Air Force’s new trainer aircraft officially named T-7A Red Hawk to honor the legacy of tuskegee airmen
Tuskegee Airmen, Col. Charles McGee, who flew more than 400 combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Also seated in the audience were members of the East Coast Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. Photo by Myles Cullen

“The name Red Hawk honors the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen, and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II,” Donovan said. “The name is also a tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter aircraft that first flew in 1938 and was flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron, the U.S. Army Air Forces’ first African American fighter squadron.”

The name is also a tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter aircraft that first flew in 1938 and was flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron, the U.S. Army Air Forces’ first African American fighter squadron

U.S. Air Force’s new trainer aircraft officially named T-7A Red Hawk to honor the legacy of tuskegee airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen subsequently painted their Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and North American P-51 Mustangs with a red-tailed paint scheme.

The T-7A Red Hawk, manufactured by Boeing, introduces capabilities that prepare pilots for fifth-generation fighters, including high-G environment, information/sensor management, high angle of attack flight characteristics, night operations, and transferable air-to-air and air-to-ground skills.

“The T-7A will be the staple of a new generation of aircraft,” Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan said during the Air, Space & Cyber Conference Sep. 16. “The Red Hawk offers advanced capabilities for training tomorrow’s pilots on data links, simulated radar, smart weapons, defensive management systems, as well as synthetic training capabilities.”

Along with updated technology and performance capabilities, the T-7A will be accompanied by enhanced simulators and the ability to update system software faster and more seamlessly. The plane was also designed with maintainers in mind by utilizing easy-to-reach and open access panels.

The T-7A features twin tails, slats and big leading-edge root extensions that provide deft handling at low speeds, allowing it to fly in a way that better approximates real-world demands and that is specifically designed to prepare pilots for fifth-generation aircraft. The aircraft’s single-engine generates nearly three times more thrust than the dual engines of the T-38C Talon which it is replacing.

“The distance between the T-38 and an F-35 is night and day,” said Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. “But with the T-7A the distance is much, much smaller. And that’s important because it means the pilots trained on it will be that much better, that much faster at a time when we must be able to train to the speed of the threat.”

A $9.2 billion contract awarded to Boeing in September 2018 calls for 351 T-7A aircraft, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment to be delivered and installed, replacing Air Education and Training Command’s 57-year-old fleet of T-38C Talons.

The first T-7A aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. All undergraduate pilot training bases will eventually transition from the T-38C to the T-7A. Those bases include: Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; Laughlin AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas and Vance AFB, Oklahoma.

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