With pitstop at Vance, T-7A Red Hawk pilot says aircraft to help develop 'safer, better and more competent combat aviator'

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Ornelas Jr.
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Vance Air Force Base, Okla. – Student and instructor pilots from the 71st Flying Training Wing got a unique preview of a T-7A Redhawk Tuesday as it transited from the manufacturing plant in St. Louis, Missouri, to Edwards Air Force Base, California, for Phase III testing.

The Redhawk is slated to replace the aging T-38C Talon, which the Air Force has been using to train pilots since the 1960s.

The distinctive paint job, a bright crimson tail, combined with the unfamiliar sound of an engine from a Navy F/A-18 Hornet, the Air Force’s newest training platform was easy to spot as it set up on final approach coming in from the north, flying over the City of Enid to land at Vance Air Force Base.

Vance is home to the service’s premier Undergraduate Pilot Training wing and is one of three flying training wings charged with producing new pilots for the world’s greatest Air Force.

“It looks advanced and stunning,” said 2nd Lt. Matthew Solomon, a student pilot with the 33rd Flying Training Squadron. “People from all over showed up to see the T-7 as it represents the future of the Air Force. It is exciting to see what future lieutenants will by flying.”

The aircraft's name, "Red Hawk," and its paint scheme honor the red-tailed planes flown by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. 

"We take great pride in sporting the red tail flash and honoring the Tuskegee Airmen and the World War II aviators who paved the way for inclusion and diversity in the United States Air Force," said Maj. Jonathan Aronoff, a test pilot with the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards.

Although the plane only stopped at Vance for a sip of JP-8, Aronoff took every minute to speak with students and instructors who took the opportunity look in the cockpit and get a feel for a plane they might one day fly. 

"It's fantastic to showcase the aircraft to its future users," Aronoff said. “Especially on its first flight out toward Edwards.”

A former T-38 instructor pilot, Aronoff said he eagerly anticipates the unique capabilities the T-7 will offer future students when compared to the T-38.

It will provide advanced training capabilities to prepare future Air Force pilots to fly the next generation of fighter aircraft, he said.

"We can simulate enemy aircraft and ground targets, allowing students to practice higher fidelity tactics, techniques and procedures for future missions," Aronoff said. "The end goal of this aircraft is to develop a safer, better and more competent combat aviator in the future.” 

"It's a really beautiful aircraft," said Capt. Benjamin Landon, a T-6A Texan II first assignment instructor pilot, assigned to the 8th Flying Training Squadron. "I can't wait to have a go at flying it one day." 

Upon its arrival at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Maj. Aronoff plans to put the jet through its paces using the 412th Test Wing's world-class risk management process, that will ensure the aircraft meets the needs set forth by Air Force to train world-class pilots. 

“It’s time to give our aviators modern tools to practice on while they get ready to go fly fifth generation fighters,” said Aronoff.

For more information on the T-7A’s flight test campaign, visit: https://www.edwards.af.mil/News/Article-View/Article/3584749/t-7a-red-hawk-arrival-at-edwards-afb-reflects-integrated-team-effort/