The result of industrial digitalization at Boeing, the new U.S. Air Force eT-7A training aircraft, which will train pilots for fifth-generation aircraft, has gone from concept to first flight in less than 36 months. Itinerary of a revolution.
The winner of the T-X program to develop and acquire an advanced training aircraft, Boeing's eT-7A has just gone into production. Dubbed "Red Hawk" by the U.S. Air Force, the eT-7A is the first aircraft in Seattle to carry the "e" particle because of its all-digital design. The "Red Hawk" had competed against, among others, the Leonardo T-100 and the Lockheed Martin/KAI T-50 "Golden Eagle".
From concept to first flight in 36 months, the eT-7A has seen a meteoric development. This speed can be explained by the use of data definition and management systems based on 3D models. According to its manufacturer, the digital process could lead to a quality gain of around 75%. The aircraft, particularly in terms of avionics, connectivity and implementation, will effectively train future pilots of "5th generation" aircraft. Another version of the eT-7A would be under development, but this time rigged for combat with the aim of building a light fighter.
Deployment in 2022
As of September 2018, the U.S. Air Force had awarded a $9.2 billion contract for 351 advanced training aircraft and 46 associated simulators (475 and 120 forward). Boeing had partnered with Swedish supplier SAAB for the simulators and rear fuselage. The eT-7A is expected to replace the T-38 Talon starting in 2022. The US Navy would also be in discussions with Boeing to find a replacement for its T-45 "Goshawk".
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