Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) and Lockheed Martin have teamed up, competing for the Air Force LAAR program. Air Tractor is also believed to compete. Embraer, the manufacturer of Super Tucano, could also submit a proposalthrough a local affiliation in the USA.
HBC will lead the team as a prime contractor, with Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY, acting as mission systems integrator for the aircraft. The team will propose a structurally strengthened derivative of the T-6A/B trainer designated the AT6 LAAR. The T-6 is already operational with eth U.S. Air Force and Navy. . The new aircraft will have commonality with the current fleet of T6 trainers.
In early September 09 HBC conducted the first flight of the AT-6 prototype, The plane is designed to be able to quickly transition pilots between basic flight training missions and complex NetCentric light attack and armed reconnaissance missions.
The first flight followed with flight envelope expansion of the heavily instrumented AT-6 prototype, along with performance and handling qualities assessments with various external store configurations. The aircraft is scheduled to complete aerodynamic handling quality and flight envelope expansion tests by late this year (2009), with additional mission system integration and testing to follow. The primary objective of the second prototype aircraft is integration of the new, higher horsepower PT-6A-68/10 engine for improved performance, with initial flight testing to begin in the spring of 2010.
“The AT-6 is a U.S.-made solution designed to meet training, light attack and armed reconnaissance needs for irregular warfare and building partner capacity initiatives,” said Jim Maslowski, president, U.S. and International Government Business for HBC. “Like our contribution to Project Liberty, we are listening carefully to the warfighter and, together with our partners at Lockheed Martin, we are creating high-end capabilities in a low-cost, low-risk aircraft.” The AT6 will incorporate various close-air-support capabilities, in addition to the training role already performed by the aircraft. In addition, AT6 will be capable in performing manned Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions and precision attack, with light, guided weapons, supported by a modern mission systems avionics suite, offering commonality with the U.S. Air Forces’ A10C. AT6 will also offer non-traditional capabilities for Homeland Defense and Civil Support missions.