Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan announced on Monday that the service's advanced trainer aircraft, the T-X, has officially been named the T-7A Red Hawk. The aircraft will feature a distinctive red tail that pays tribute to the signature red tails painted on the Tuskegee airmen's planes 75 years ago.
One of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, retired Col. Charles McGee, was on stage at the 2019 Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Maryland on Monday as the T-7A Red Hawk was unveiled. McGee, 99, flew more than 400 combat missions in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
"The name Red Hawk honors the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen, and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II," Donovan said. "The name is also a tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter aircraft that first flew in 1938 and was flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron, the U.S. Army Air Forces' first African American fighter squadron."
According to the Air Force, the first T-7A Red Hawk aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. But eventually every Air Force base that trains pilots will use the new aircraft, replacing the older T-38C trainers.
"The T-7A Red Hawk, manufactured by Boeing, introduces capabilities that prepare pilots for fifth generation fighters, including: high-G environment, information/sensor management, high angle of attack flight characteristics, night operations and transferable air-to-air and air-to-ground skills," the Air Force said in a statement.
"The distance between the T-38 and an F-35 is night and day," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. "But with the T-7A the distance is much, much smaller. And that's important because it means the pilots trained on it will be that much better, that much faster at a time when we must be able to train to the speed of the threat."