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USAF Postpones T-7A Red Hawk Jet Trainer’s IOC Status

USAF Postpones T-7A Red Hawk Jet Trainer’s IOC Status

USAF has delayed T-7A Red Hawk trainers Initial Operating Capability (IOC) from 2025 to 2028, thus jeopardising the goal of training 1,500 pilots per year. The US Air Force (USAF) plans to retire T-38s at once, but it has pushed back the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) date for the new T-7A Red Hawk trainer plane from 2025 to 2028. This corresponds to a reduction in the budget for procuring this Boeing-Saab trainer jet. The USAF currently has at least two T-7 prototypes, one of which is conducting developmental flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Others have just completed climate tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The United States Air Force first awarded Boeing a contract to acquire the T-7A in 2018. However, issues with the wings, ejection seats, and damaged parts have hampered the plane’s progress. Technical challenges have delayed several milestones, including those for the IOC.

In its fiscal year 2024 budget proposal, the USAF stated that it intends to purchase 14 T-7A jets in fiscal year 2025, increasing the total acquisition to 351 jets. However, in its 2025 request, the service proposed purchasing seven jets by 2025 and a total procurement of 346 aircraft.

The cuts were caused by a little delay in the program’s scheduled Milestone C decision, which was moved from the second to the third quarters of 2025.

Production is set to expand to 23 aircraft in 2026 and 2027, followed by 36 apiece in 2028 and 2029.

A little decrease in overall inventory translates to a slightly lower cost per aircraft. The fiscal 2024 projection is $21.78 million per aircraft, with the fiscal 2025 estimate being $19.72 million per aircraft. The IOC delay is anticipated to hinder the Air Force’s efforts to alleviate the long-standing pilot shortage.