Designed by Saab and Boeing, the T-7 Red Hawk advanced training jet will be the successor to the famous T-38 Talon in the U.S. Air Force. But airframer thinks beyond that order and plans to launch a light fighter variant of the aircraft on the market.
The intention has been going on for a long time, but the American manufacturer again gave clues about the combat version of the T-7. According to Boeing, there is a potential market for about 2,600 aircraft in missions of advanced training, light fighter or aggressor.
Although it did not name countries that might be interested in the new plane, Boeing said to Flight Global that the Red Hawk would be the natural successor to trainer aircraft like the Alpha Jet and fighters such as the F-5 Tiger II.
Replacing the well-known Northrop fighter was expected, after all the T-7 will do the same with the F-5’s brother, the T-38. According to Cirium consultancy, there are about 430 F-5 units active in the world from 17 different countries.
Produced from the 1960s, the F-5 was an inexpensive option for many air forces that lacked the resources to purchase supersonic fighters. Its versatility and low operating cost have ensured it has an active presence in countries such as Switzerland, Morocco and Brazil as well as Iran, where the Northrop jet is maintained without US support.
The T-7 tries to follow these same steps by offering affordable and simple maintenance. The aircraft is equipped with a GE F404 engine widely used in other fighters such as the F-18 and the rival KAI T-50. The advanced trainer is a little bigger than an F-5, but much lighter since it is not the combat variant.
The big question about the Boeing and Saab partnership plane is its price. The F-5 became a sales phenomenon because it was affordable, something that the two manufacturers will have to prove in practice. Demand does not seem to be lacking in times when orders for authentic fighters reach astronomical figures.