Saab has opened a new facility in West Lafayette, Ind., and the new site will be the location for domestic production of Saab’s aft airframe sections for the T-7A Red Hawk trainer.
Additionally, the facility will support research and development in autonomy, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing.
“This opening marks a historic moment for Saab. This high-tech facility and its growing workforce are a result of Saab’s continued investment in the United States. Just as the T-7A Red Hawk will train the next generation of fighter and bomber pilots, we look forward to welcoming and training the next generation of aerospace engineers and other skilled employees,” said President and Group CEO of Saab Micael Johansson. “As a trusted local partner, Saab is committed to investing in both our West Lafayette community and the research and development for a more sustainable world to keep people and society safe.”
The Boeing-Saab team is producing the new advanced trainer for the U.S. Air Force, with Saab providing the aft section to Boeing’s forward fuselage. Currently the aft section is built at Saab’s factory in Linköping, Sweden, then shipped to the United States.
“I’m inspired by the Boeing-Saab team’s accomplishments with the T-7A Red Hawk — bringing together the best of digital design and production innovation to build this incredible trainer,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “Our modern T-7A Red Hawk production lines are enabling us to deliver the most digitally advanced, simply and efficiently produced, and intelligently supported solutions to our customers, and we’re honored to team with Saab to make this possible.”
Since the inception of T-7A, Boeing and Saab have continued to seek and evolve new program efficiencies.
“Our teams will no longer have to tackle lengthy trans-Atlantic shipping schedules,” said Steve Parker, Boeing Bombers & Fighters, vice president and general manager. “The digital characteristics of this trainer not only enables adaptive growth in future builds, but it also significantly improves quality as compared to traditional design and manufacturing methods.”
The T-7A Red Hawk went from concept to first flight in just 36 months using advanced model-based engineering and digital design techniques. The digital thread, the connection of digital information through product design, manufacturing and inspection, used throughout the program has accounted for a 75 percent improvement in engineering quality.
In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract to supply 351 advanced trainer aircraft and 46 associated ground based training simulators.
The T-7A Red Hawk has been named as an ode to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force. In World War II, these aviators frequently painted their planes with a red-tailed color scheme, and the T-7A has been officially named the Red Hawk in their honor.