Paris 2011: Hawker Beechcraft’s Attack Version of Popular T-6 Texan TrainerAT-6 Awaits LAS/LAAR Aimed at USAF Programsdecision

Paris Air Show » 2011
June 20, 2011, 10:22 PM

While Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) the company waits on a decision from the U.S. government regarding a potentially lucrative contract for the AT-6 armed derivative, Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) it has brought its T-6C Texan II trainer demonstrator to Paris as part of a major European tour.

Earlier this year HBC delivered the 700th T-6, and the fleet has now clocked up 1.7 million hours. Currently the company is half way through delivering 24 T-6Cs to the Royal Moroccan air force, which was the launch customer for the T-6C version. As well as wing hardpoints, this features an Esterline CMC Cockpit 4000 avionics suite driving a three-screen cockpit with head-up display and upfront control panel.

HBC’s T-6 demonstrator works hard in support of sales campaigns, which currently include opportunities in Australia and New Zealand, and the UK’s MFTS program. The company is building another demonstrator, and although its final configuration has yet to be defined, it is likely to incorporate systems that are becoming increasingly important in today’s airspace, such as wide area augmentation system (WAAS) and precision GPS navigation. It may also have features from the AT-6, such as the 1600-shp PT6A-68D engine and new wing with larger tanks.

The AT-6 has been developed to answer two linked U.S. Department of Defense programs: LAS l(light air support) (LAS) and light attack and armed reconnaissance (LAAR) (light attack and armed reconnaissance). The LAS “‘Building Partnership Capacity’ Capacity” requirement initially focuses on 20 aircraft for use by Afghanistan, but has been drawn up as an indefinite -duration, /indefinite -quantity IDIQ (IDIQindefinite duration, indefinite quantity) program to form a contracting vehicle through which other similar acquisitions can be facilitated. As a consequence, LAS proposals are required to be fully exportable.

By contrast, the LAAR requirement is for U.S. Air Force use, with the initial 15 aircraft going to a training unit at Eglin AFB, Florida, where they would be used to provide instruction for LAS users. Subsequently, the U.S. Air ForceUSAF may acquire LAAR aircraft for operations in theaters where the air- threat environment allows the operations of cheaper aircraft than the fast -jets currently used, such as Afghanistan. The LAAR machines would have some non-exportable U.S.-specific equipment, the differences being primarily in the communications systems.

HBC currently has two AT-6 production-representative test vehicles (PRTV), developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin. The first PRTV (, AT-1) is now in full LAS configuration, with the mission system from Lockheed Martin’s A-10C upgrade, 1,600-shp engine and a centerline pod with L-3 Wescam MX-15Di sensor derived from the system used in the King Air-based MC-12W Liberty aircraft employed by the U.S. Air ForceUSAF.

The AT-2 was used initially as the primary engine testbed, but will get the mission system installed by September, and will be completed to the LAAR configuration.

Field trials of the AT-6 and its competitor, the Embraer Super Tucano, have been completed and now the two bidders await an outcome. A decision on LAS was initially expected at the end of this month, but that is now expected to slip into July or August.

Hawker Beechcraft is optimistic about its chances, citing the T-6’s proven systems and low-risk solutions. The company also points out that the aircraft has been designed to meet or exceed the requirements, without offering unnecessary extras, and without unnecessary cost. It has achieved considerable success with its weight control, allowing the AT-6 to carry more internal fuel, although four of the aircraft’s six underwing pylons are plumbed for tanks if extreme range/endurance is required.

700th T-6 and New Demonstrator

Earlier this year HBC delivered the 700th T-6, and the fleet has now clocked up 1.7 million hours. Currently, the company is half way through delivering 24 T-6Cs to the Royal Moroccan air force, which was the launch customer for the T-6C version. As well as wing hardpoints, this version features an Esterline CMC Cockpit 4000 avionics suite driving a three-screen cockpit with head-up display and upfront control panel.

HBC’s T-6 demonstrator works hard in support of sales campaigns, which currently include opportunities in Australia and New Zealand, and the UK’s military flying training systems (MFTS) program.

The company is building another demonstrator, and although its final configuration has yet to be defined, it is likely to incorporate systems that are becoming increasingly important in today’s airspace, such as wide area augmentation system (WAAS) and precision GPS navigation. It may also have features from the AT-6, such as the 1600-shp PT6A-68D engine and new wing with larger tanks.

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Ground-based Ttraining System Ddebut

Hawker BeechcraftHBC has selected CAE USA to provide the ground-based training system (GBTS) for the AT-6, a comprehensive suite of aids from computer-based training and courseware, through desktop trainers and the unit training device (UTD) to (unit training device, to full mission simulators.

Together the companies are presenting the UTD element for the first time here in Paris. On display in HBC’s chalet (S1 #406), the UTD is a full-fidelity cockpit trainer that can be controlled by an instructor from a remote station, and employed to give a range of training capabilities in a cockpit that looks and feels identical to that in the airplane’s cockpitcraft.

They Possible training scenarios can include complex light attack and irregular warfare missions. Demonstrations of the UTD here at Lle Bourget are based on CAE’s common database, with synthetic imagery generated by the CAE Medallion-6000 visual system. o

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