Saab, Purdue to dedicate aerospace facility
On Oct. 13, officials from Purdue University, the state of Indiana and Sweden-based Saab formally dedicated the aerospace company’s new research and manufacturing facility at Purdue Discovery Park District.
Saab announced plans in 2019 to invest $37 million to build the 100,000-square foot building. The facility will produce the aft section of the T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer for the U.S. Air Force in partnership with Boeing.
Before retiring from Boeing in March 2021, AAE alumnus William "Ted" Torgerson (BSAAE '83) oversaw the execution of the U.S. Air Force Advanced Pilot Training Program and the T-7A Red Hawk. Leading into that role, he managed the development of Boeing’s self-funded T-X aircraft and training system in partnership with Saab. That included the development of the winning bid for the Air Force’s next jet trainer program replacing the T-38C. As a result, Boeing will supply over 351 aircraft and 46 simulators valued at over $9 billion. After the award of the contract to the Boeing/Saab team, Saab selected West Lafayette and Purdue’s Discovery Park District for the location of their U.S.-based production facility for the center/aft fuselage of the T-7A aircraft.
In an interview on Inside Indiana Business, General Manager Robert Ulibarri said the jet trainer program is an important one for the Air Force and the new aircraft will play a huge role in its future.
"It's replacing an aging fleet," Ulibarri said in the article. "The T-38 was first flown in 1959 and has been the trainer of choice for tens of years since then, but it's reached its end of life. So, the maintenance costs are extremely high and they're also not as reliable, and the T-7A fills that need."
The T-7A was named the Red Hawk to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps.