Swedish defence prime Saab has accepted an order to produce aft fuselages for the T-7A trainer aircraft under a contract, booked at the end of 2023, worth Skr1bn ($101.7m).

The company will produce these fuselage systems at its US manufacturing facility in West lafayette, Indiana.

Also known as ‘Red Hawks’, the T-7A fulfils the role of a trainer aircraft. The platform is developed for the US Air Force (UASF) by Boeing, the original equipment manufacturer.

The trainer has a single engine, twin fin and a stadium setaing that gives both the instructor pilot and the student a good view from cockpit. It is equipped with modern avionics, advanced display systems and embedded training.

Two T-7A Red Hawks. Credit: Saab.

In 2018, the USAF granted Boeing a contract valued at $9.2bn for the procurement of 351 T-7A advanced trainers, along with 46 simulators and associated support.

Until now, the USAF has been using the 60-year-old T-38 Talon aircraft to train its pilots even as new designs evolve. This makes sense as the new T-7A system has been in development for some time, nearly a decade behind initial plans.

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Since then, the T-7A completed its first flight on 28 June 2023 to validate key aspects of the USAF’s first digitally designed trainer aircraft, which set the scene for the engineering and manufacturing phase of the programme.

In November 2023, the first Red Hawk trainer arrived at Edwards Air Force Base in California to undergo climatic lab testing where it will be exposed to extreme climates as part of the developmental test campaign.

“What we are building is the most modern and forward-looking advanced pilot training system on the market and I am confident that this is a programme that will deliver aircraft for many years to come,” Saab’s head of aeronautics Lars Tossman stated. “This order ensures the ramp-up of serial production to meet both current and future customer’s needs.”