Boeing [BA] on Apr. 28 said that it unveiled the first T-7A Red Hawk trainer for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase at the company’s St. Louis plant.

The company plans to build 351 T-7As for the U.S. Air Force to replace the 1960s-era Northrop T-38 Talon.

“The fully digitally designed [T-7A] aircraft was built and tested using advanced manufacturing, agile software development and digital engineering technology significantly reducing the time from design to first flight,” Boeing said. “The aircraft also features open architecture software, providing growth and flexibility to meet future mission needs.”

The roll-out of the T-7A comes as Boeing reported a $367 million first quarter writeoff  on the program due to COVID-19 related supply chain slowdowns (

Defense Daily, Apr. 27). Boeing president and CEO, Dave Calhoun, on Apr. 27 said that, in contrast to his predecessor, Dennis Muilenburg, he would not pursue fixed-price development contracts, which he suggested led to the Red Hawk writeoff.

The Red Hawk has a red-tailed livery to honor World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen–the first African American aviation unit in the U.S. military. The airmen flew such combat/patrol and bomber escort planes as the P-40 Warhawk, P -47 Thunderbot, and the P-51 Mustang.

The first EMD T-7A is to remain in St. Louis and undergo ground and flight tests before the plane’s delivery to the Air Force.

Boeing builds the front section in St. Louis, while Saab builds the aft section in Sweden. Elbit Systems of America–a subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems [ESLT]–builds the aircraft’s cockpit and embedded training system. Saab is to begin producing the aft section in the United States at the company’s new production plant in West Lafayette, Ind.

“We can’t get the T-7 fast enough,” Air Force Lt. Gen. David Nahom, the service’s deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said on Apr. 27 in response to a question from Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel. “If you look at the tail on most T-38s, it will have a [19]60 something on there when it was produced. We’ve got to get these aircrew training in a much more modern aircraft that will help bridge them into these 5th Generation aircraft that they’re moving into.”

Jackson’s district includes Air Education and Training Command’s Sheppard AFB.