The United States Air Force is changing the name of its trainer jet from the T-X to the T-7A “Red Hawk” in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The announcement was made during the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference at the National Harbor, Maryland, military.com reports.
“The name, Red Hawk, honors the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II, “acting Air Force Secretary Matt 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,” he continued.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of Black pilots trained to fly combat aircraft. They were formed in 1941 in Tuskegee, Alabama and became the first Black military aviators in the US service corps, even before the creation of the United States Air Force. The group fought for their right to serve during a time when African Americans were banned from flying for the U.S. military. The group included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance, support staff, instructors and other personnel. The Tuskegee program became the premiere training ground for African American aviators during World War II.
Joining Donovan during the announcement was retired Colonel Charles McGee. McGee was a decorated P-51 Mustang fighter pilot who flew combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. McGee is one of the last original Tuskegee Airmen alive today, military.com reports.
The new Red Hawk training jet will also have a similar design as the original Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C aircraft. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said the design helps the new pilots training to be better and faster.
An honor well deserved!
Photo courtesy of Mariela Lombard