Upgraded AT-6 Takes to the Air
Hawker Beechcraft successfully completed the maiden flight of its second AT-6 production-representative test vehicle (PRTV) on April 5 in Wichita. The first PRTV first flew with the new mission avionics suite last September. The second PRTV is the first to fly with the intended powerplant, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68D rated at 1,600 shp (1194 kW).
Hawker Beechcraft developed the AT-6 from the proven T-6 Texan II turboprop trainer to provide a sophisticated light-attack platform. Although the AT-6 has 95-percent commonality with the T-6, there is some structural strengthening to handle stores carriage and the greater power of the new engine. Some of that power is harnessed to provide additional electrical power for the mission system, which has been integrated by Lockheed Martin and is based on that employed in the A-10C upgrade.
The AT-6 is a prime contender for the U.S. Air Force’s Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance requirement, and also has considerable export potential. As well as providing a cost-effective precision attack platform, it has applications in the training, ISR and homeland security sectors.
Two days after the AT-6’s first flight, Hawker Beechcraft reached another milestone with the delivery of the 600th T-6 trainer on April 7. Most have been supplied to the U.S. military, which accepted its 500th Texan II in early March, but Canada/NFTC, Greece, Iraq, Israel and Morocco have also purchased the type. The first T-6s for Iraq were delivered in February.