WASHINGTON — Boeing has begun production of the first T-7A ground-based training systems, preparing the way for the company to make its first deliveries in 2023.

Workers at Boeing’s plant in St. Louis, Missouri, are currently assembling the first two weapon systems trainers and one operational flight trainer, the company said in a news release Tuesday. Those assets will be among the first simulators the company expects to deliver to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023.

The high-fidelity simulators include 8K native projectors that supports imagery that is 16 times the clarity of high-definition video, and the crew stations are equipped with motion seats that simulate the sensation of flight, Boeing stated.

The ground-based trainers will be able to connect to a physical T-7A, meaning that pilots virtually training can team up with those performing live flights in the T-7 aircraft. Because the simulators were built with an open-architecture backbone, it can be easily modified with new software applications.

“The Red Hawk’s training system is arguably the most advanced in the world. It’s a game changer,” said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing’s vice president of the T-7 programs. “This system is 100% integrated with the pilot’s real-world experience, offering ‘real-as-it-gets’ simulation. We’re working closely with the U.S. Air Force and look forward to testing and fielding the devices.”

In 2018, Boeing won the $9.2 billion contract for the T-X program after submitting a bid that shaved about $10 billion off the Air Force’s initial estimates. The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract allows the Air Force to buy up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators, although the current plan is to buy 351 T-7 aircraft, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment.

Under the initial $813 million award, Boeing will deliver five T-7 aircraft and seven simulators.

Initial operating capability is planned by the end of fiscal 2024 when the first squadron of T-7A aircraft and its associated simulators are all available for training. Full operational capability is projected for 2034.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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