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First Impression Review : T-7A Red Hawk by AOA Simulations The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk, which was originally known as the Boeing T-X, is an American/Swedish advanced jet trainer and F-7A light fighter that was selected on 27 September 2018 by the United States Air Force (USAF) as the winner of the T-X program to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon, and we all know the T-38 as it has been around for aeons. Angle of Attack (AOA) Simulations have developed for X-Plane (XP) the T-7A Red hawk, and a very nice looking aircraft it is, very interesting as well. The T-7A has that Hawk feel forward and with the wings, but with the rear of the more modern F-35 single large exhaust and twin-tailplane layout and it is by scale a far bigger aircraft than the T-38 Talon it replaces. Overall the aircraft is very well modeled, but you couldn't note it as high-quality or even Hi-Res compared to the JustFlight Hawk T1/A. Glass and the twin-seater canopy however is very good with nice shaping and reflections... The complex landing gear is also very well modeled, but a large amount of the detail is still in the 3D modeling mode that does without textures for that lifelike quality realism. The note that this aircraft as a prototype could be seen as very new and hence very clean, but you are still missing that realism factor in the detail? So it all comes across to me as very skillfully modeled, but not entirely realistic and this feeling is present right through the aircraft. The low Resolution textures are highly noticeable and in reality we have left these X-Plane9 looking aircraft behind a long time ago, a shame because the textures have a good PBR effect that would have given the aircraft very high quality of depth to the modeling if the textures had matched the definition. Yes the textures are mapped on to a 4K background (4096x4096) but the whole aircraft is mapped totally just onto only one texture sheet into then making everything very small and with no detail, were as the JF Hawk T1/A has a full 4K sheet for just the wings and tail alone! The external detailing of the single exhaust is again let down by the average textures, but the internal detail is very good. Ditto the tail detail in again Lo-Res textures and the plain modeled hinge detail that is not up to the grade of this price range. Menu Aircraft menu is situated in the X-Plane/Menu. The menu has four sections: Liveries, Enable/Disable (R2c - GCAS), Weapon Modes, and Options. Liveries: There are three liveries with the aircraft: US Air Force T-7A (Default), TX - Prototype and US Navy Arctic Camo. We will look at R2c and GCAS - Ground Collision Avoidance System later, but you can switch them on or off here in the menu. Weapon modes: In Weapon mode you can cycle though... Nav Mode (off), Target Track Mode, Gun Mode, Missile Mode and Bomb Mode. Options: There are four option selections all toggles in: 2D/3D cockpit, Mirrors, Ground Equipment and Nose Probe. Mirrors, there are three mirrors set out around the frame on the canopy, these can be disabled. Ground Equipment, (Static Elements), selecting ground equipment will give you flags, large side stairs and engine intake covers... ... but overall the elements feel half done? a few at the front but nothing at the rear or no wheel chocks and the pilots don't disappear either? Nose Probe, a test nose probe can be attached or not. Interior The cockpit detail is very good as you have to understand that there would not be a lot of information about the aircraft available, so AOA have made a good fist of it... .... modeling detail is very good, but again we have no textures, just the modeling except for the seat cushions and seatbelts, and again they get away with it because of the nature of the aircraft, but total realism it isn't as it just looks like a highly rendered model. There are not a lot of switches in here either, with just three to set up and power the aircraft. Right side panels give you Lights, Engines and Electrical, and the left side has Doors, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) or Transponder. Left is the throttle and right is the joystick. Which brings us to our biggest issue as there is no manual? There is a Quick Look (sort of) manual, but there is no real detail in here of what is what and just the (very) basics are listed and another (PDF) on how to set up the Weapons (but not on how to actually use them?)... try that yourself and you will get all sorts of odd things... ... the only two you can set is the "Chaff" and "Flares". So there is no under wing stores, in belly stores or nose cannons. So working yourself around this technical cockpit is not easy, and so it can't be translated to you either in this review. There are two main instrument panels, the selection "Up-Front" Display and the lower wide "Panoramic cockpit" Display. Up-Front The "Up-Front" Display and selection is actually quite clever with HDG (Heading) left top row, and ALT (Altitude) right top row... with ILS, and GS (Glideslope) selections in the middle top row. Second row is SPD (Speed) left and VVI (Vertical Speed) right... with AP (AutoPilot) and SRVO (Servos) centre second row. Third row is mostly information to cover KNTS/MACH (Knots/Mach), TAS, SPD (Speed) Brake, BRG (Background), DST (Distance), ETA, TF and TF number. Fourth row is views, front or rear, 2D/3D, Nose Camera (XP), Tower (XP), Runway (XP), Aircraft (XP) and Circle (XP)... and GCAS (ON/OFF) Timers and Date are set out on the bottom of the panel. "Panoramic cockpit" Display The "Panoramic cockpit" is really three displays with the NAV/MAP central and two switchable screens left and right. NAV/MAP range is selected by pressing the ZOOM-IN and ZOOM-OUT selections, and the Pop-Out is the XP G1000 panel display. Left and Right screen options include: CKL (Aircraft Configuration) and MAP - ADI and RWS (Rose-Right Side) FCS (Flight Controls) and WEP (Weapons) - RWS (Rose- Left side) and CAM (External Camera) Top of the panel are three "Icon Bar" selection displays with left: Afterburner, Gear position, centre: Weather, Radio Frequencies and right: Range, XP Map, Weapon Selection and Chaff/Flares with a circle arrow reset. Aircraft Configuration shows you all your current aircraft data and very good it is, but the ADI selection is a requirement because it gives you an artificial horizon, speed and altitude tapes, bank indicator and a Rose with OBS1 and OBS 2 selections, there is also a backup artificial horizon, heading, speed and altitude tapes to the right of the Up-Front display. MAP has built in APT (Airport), WPT (Waypoint) and WRX (Weather) selections with DME1 and DME2 distances to the bottom of the screen, choice of GPS and MAP are also available. The Engine/Fuel display is positioned right, with both switchable numbers and percentage displays... ... flap position and tailplane position is also shown. DON"T press the "Pull To Arm" lever or the yellow "Eject" handle... as they really work! Note the adjustable AviTab iPad (AviTab Plugin is required). IFF - Transponder is very easy to use and looks nice in the process. NightLighting At night it looks very nice in the cockpit, but there is only a brightness adjustment? Only the HUD - (Head Up Display) can be dimmed or turned off. The HUD itself is very good and easily readable in different lighting conditions... Externally you only have Navigation and Strobe lighting, there are two landing lights on each of the rear landing gear struts so lighting can only be used when the gear is down, there are no IDENT ‘Slime Lights’ lighting on the aircraft. Flying the T-5A Red Hawk The Red Hawk is a trainer aircraft in a sequence of levels to acquire a full Jet Fighter certificate under the JPATS or Joint Primary Aircraft Training System. Entry level is Student on the T-6A Texan ll aircraft (propeller), that then moves to the T-1A Jayhawk in SUPT roles, then the T-38C Talon is used in the advanced pilot training role, but the T-5A category (APT T-X Program) is for the advance training to fourth and fifth generation aircraft (i.e. computer based) and multiple system based technology capability. The first thing you notice in the cockpit of the T-5A is on how very minimalistic everything is, I will note that a lot of this new technology capability is also built into the pilot's helmet that can not be replicated here in X-Plane (well not yet anyway). AOA do show you how to set up your joystick with XP commands that does certain actions, and the XP A.I. (AI Aircraft) is also similarly set up for hostility operations and refueling. The GpsFPLInput plugin by Gtagentman is also recommended to be installed as well. I found without a manual the "Up-Front" Display can be hard to decipher and even use, I also think the KNTS/MACH with the Speed selection is buggy as we shall see... The General Electric F404 after-burning turbofan is very powerful at 17,700 lbf (78.7 kN) and 11,000 lbf with the afterburner disengaged at takeoff and you really feel the kick down the runway, the nose will lift around 170knts... flap setting is at 30º but there isn't any lever action required as it is set automatically for you as the flap position is set to your speed. Climb-out and at 210 knts (non-afterburner) the gear will automatically retract... the flaps will retract to 15º then "Up" at either 250 TAS or 20º pitch Rate of Climb is phenomenal, I selected 4,000fpm and it took that climb rate easily all the way to 20,000ft, but there are currently no formal performance statistics except 600knts a ceiling of 55,000ft and a tested airframe to Mach 1.8. You feel like you are riding a bullet, the aircraft is fast... very fast. Heading changes under the AP are violent as you suddenly bank hard and it certainly does not feel very realistic, under manual control the aircraft however is very nice to fly, but precision in control changes are required at these speeds... or you could lose the aircraft very quickly, so think like Col Chuck Yeager as you fly tight and straight through the sound barrier. Note both AP and SRVO selections are required for auto-flight. Afterburner operation is also automatic (if switched on)... ... a little afterburner icon is illuminated (arrowed) when the burner is in operation, and the exhaust movement animation is well done.... it is a shame about the quality of the textures though. Watch your afterburning though as it uses a lot of fuel each time you power up, it is like a fuel dump in motion. Runway to 20,000ft is a doddle, suddenly you are up there and flying fast at m.90! Chaff and Flares are easy to activate, but again they are used up very quickly... they do look very good though. I never did work out the weapons system (no manual) and so you have to be very careful on using the R2c system? The R2c system is switched on via the left side switch... select your target mode and the system completely takes over your aircraft or your views? First lockout delivers only horizontal movement, second selection will follow the TRK, but also completely lock you out from flying the aircraft and mostly the target is in a viewpoint that is wrong like here through the rear seat? Bombing will give you a aim-sight in the HUD, but overall every mode locks you out from flying the aircraft? The selected mode wouldn't fire either? Overall I didn't like it at all as I lost control and visual communication of the aircraft and the only way to get control back is to "SAFE" the system and thankfully switch it all off. Time to power up and head home... and bejesus this thing can move... above m.1.06 though the afterburner would hunt to keep up the speed... ... at m.1 11 you got the constant afterburner hunting, set lower to m.1 05 and the aircraft settled down nicely. Biggest conflict I had was with the Mach/Speed (Knts) selection? You can adjust your speed right down in Mach numbers, but it won't allow you to switch to Knts? well it did at the correct speed of 302knts will but then correct directly down to 134 knts (and way to slow) and lock it solidly in there? Only by going back to the Mach mode was I able to control the speed? Using the Airbrakes, the aircraft would also override my commands (who is flying this aircraft?) and closed them again... as I needed my airbrakes to control my descent speed? There are a lot of little override commands like this, so you feel you are not actually in control of the aircraft? In the end you disconnect all the auto functions to regain control of the aircraft. Adjust your speed down to 250knts (m.0 34) and the aircraft will automatically set itself for landing, wheels will go down and the flaps will adjust accordingly as you reduce the speed down to a landing speed of 155 knts and full flap... .... but I had to finally take over with manual control as the aircraft kept switching to the default 134knts? and that is basically in being too slow with a nose high pitch? Again I manually selected the airbrakes and again I got over-ruled? so the aircraft has a mind of it's own? Under manual control the T-5A is a joy to fly with instant reply from the controls and perfect thrust power from the throttle, this is a very nice aircraft to fly and enjoy from a pilot's perspective. Approach speed is 145 knts and flare and touch down is around 135 knts? remember that number from before? Then you have to activate the Airbrakes manually? god this aircraft is confusing? However the T-5A is brilliant on approach and landing phases, I can't go wrong in making the perfect landing every time. Speed rubs off quite nicely but you will still need to use the brakes to slow the aircraft to a taxi speed, and don't forget to retract the airbrakes? One thing I will mention is that for a training aircraft the T-5A does a lot of the work for you? It is debatable if learning on this aircraft you would know if moving to a more front line role as a pilot, to control and raise and lower the gear and to actually set your flap position to the correct speeds? You can see a first flight on another aircraft of landing too fast and with the gear up because the trainee pilot would think the aircraft (like on the Red Hawk) would do all the actions for them? But from another perspective it makes the Red Hawk and almost impossibly easy aircraft to fly... but is that too easy? ___________________________________ Summary There are many times in reviewing that you get caught between two worlds. This Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk from Angle of Attack (AOA) Simulations puts you in such a position. It is first notable that the real aircraft is still in it's own development stage, so areas of this X-Plane version may not or even be evident on the real aircraft, so AOA my have taken liberty on many areas in this context. That said they have still created a very credible and sensational flying aircraft to meet the T-X program requirements. There is so much to really like on this trainer. I love flying the aircraft and the performance is simply phenomenal and the sounds are pretty good as well, and in manual mode it is a very nice machine to use and control, It is a very nice aircraft to look at as well and systems are clever and well thought out... but. The modeling is actually very good, the problem is that you see too much of it around the aircraft, textures are so Low-Res (so small on the texture sheet) and the point is that we left this level of detail back in X-Plane9 and the textures in too many areas are not used to cover the said modeling. Although the systems are very good, they are also buggy, but oddly enough they actually may not be. But in this first impression of the aircraft then how would I or really anyone else know because there is no manual, and all that is provided is just a "Quick Look" basic pdf on the aircraft, personally with these sort of experimental aircraft and systems you need to understand how they do actually work? Just a set up guide is simply not good enough and I leave this first impression review slightly confused? Yes comparisons will be matched with the JustFlight Hawk, is that fair? It is certainly a benchmark but the JF Hawk is a full level and price point higher, but still if AOA had reached even halfway to the external quality and catered to the details even down to the finer points, then this would have been an exceptional aircraft as all the right ingredients are already right in here, it is still good and certainly if you are willing to work through the details and even with a couple of updates that will bring it fully up to the mark... personally the T-5A made a big impression on me and far more than I really actually expected, but it deserves more. _______________________________ The T-7A Red Hawk by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store: T-7A Red Hawk Priced at US$36.00 Main features T-7A advanced trainer and F-7A light fighter Highly detailed, fully animated 3D model and weapons PBR textures Advanced Features SASL 3.8 based plug-in system “Roll to See” dynamic pilot POV camera option (non-VR mode) points pilot camera based on pitch, roll and G forces "Target Track" points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System Fly from forward or aft cockpits as student or instructor "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability Track-IR and VR compatible AviTab tablet integration (Download AviTab plugin separately) Cockpit based on preliminary assessment of prototype T-X screen shots Head Up Display Up Front 32 points touch screen control and display panel Large format glass panel with embedded G1000 color moving map Multiple sub panel page options Dedicated engine data display Navigation Fully autopilot control thru Up Front Control panel Dual ADF GPS Nav1 & 2 VOR / ILS Low altitude, all weather Terrain Following Radar Air to air, with radar lock on AI targets Dedicated threat situational awareness cockpit display Terrain mapping radar Weapon system Master jettison switch Weapon display panel 4 x AIM-9X Infrared A2A missiles 8 x Small Diameter Bomb II's GPS aim point bombing mode Gun Pod Miscellaneous FMOD Sounds, aural warnings Particle systems effects Animated ejection sequence Ground support equipment Removable test probe (T-X prototype) Three liveries Additional liveries available free on X-Plane.org download manager Paint kit Download Quick Look PDF from our support page for a preview of the aircraft Requirements X-Plane 11 4Gb VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: v1.0 (March 5th 2020) Installation and documents: Download for the T-7A Red Hawk is 313mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "Fighters" X-Plane Aircraft folder at 412.00 mb. The GpsFPLInput plugin by Gtagentman is also recommended to be installed as well. Documentation: Documentation consist's of a Quick Look overview, Setting up the Weapons System, and the official CRS T-7A report... also provided is a Speed Chart (png), Weapon system switch setup (png), and xyz control sensitivity (png) 1. Quick look.pdf 2. Weapons System.pdf 2019 CRS report T-7A Red Hawk program.pdf ________________________________ First Quick Impression Review by Stephen Dutton 25th March 2020 Copyright©2020 : X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.41 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 v1.07 Scenery or Aircraft - KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95