Training

Singapore Airshow 2020: Boeing believes T-7 trainer will have Asian appeal

13th February 2020 - 03:00 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Singapore

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Buoyed by its selection by the USAF as its next-generation T-X trainer aircraft, Boeing was promoting its twin-seat T-7 as ‘highly relevant’ for Asia-Pacific air forces.

Thomas Breckenridge, VP of international sales at Boeing Strike, Surveillance and Mobility, stated that Boeing and its partner Saab are targeting sales of 2,600 aircraft globally, including 351 aircraft and 46 simulators under the T-X programme.

However, Boeing did not have any timeline for achieving that level of sales, nor would the company elaborate on which Asia-Pacific countries could be considered potential customers.

Referring to the suitability of the T-7 to the Asia-Pacific market, Breckenridge said that the aircraft offers advanced, mission and recurrent training; complements advanced fighters with a reconfigurable cockpit; and delivers ‘real as it gets’ ground- and air-based training.

He added that T-7 training evolves with open mission systems shared by the simulator and aircraft, plus it is designed for growth to meet future mission requirements. Among those future roles identified by Boeing are a light fighter and an aggressor aircraft.

First T-7A Red Hawk deliveries to the USAF are scheduled for 2023, and a total of 48 will be manufactured per annum. The name Red Hawk is a tribute to the Tuskegee airmen of World War II.

Breckenridge noted that there is excess capacity to insert production for other customers within that schedule. He also mentioned that Boeing has long experience with offsets, adding that while overseas production is not yet envisaged, there will be opportunities for foreign partners in the future.

Boeing and Saab are working together to address the global market, although the particular arrangements do not seem very clear at the moment.

Giving an update on development of the T-7A, Breckenridge said that it is 30% complete in phase one developmental tests. More than 150 flights have been completed to date, with an average of five flights per day by two test aircraft.

Saab will be producing aft fuselage sections, while Boeing will make the forward fuselage sections for production aircraft.

Breckenridge estimated that one in four advanced fighters in the world currently end up being used in a training role. Therefore, it is imperative that an aircraft like the T-7A supply fighter-like performance but at a more affordable cost.

The T-7A is powered by a single F404-GE engine, and Boeing described its 19in screen in the cockpit as ‘an iPad in the sky’.

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