The Air Force and Navy have both been investigating the idea of a return to propeller-driven aircraft for “irregular warfare” support — something that can provide both ISR for special forces on the ground with a long on-station time, and quick close air support when the need arises. The Navy reportedly was looking at the Brazilian-made Super Tucano for that role (though the Super Tucano is not carrier-launch capable).
In July, the Air Force’s Air Combat Command issued a presolictation “capability request” for a Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. Now Hawker Beechcraft and Lockheed Martin have joined forces to put together a bid based on H/B’s T-6 Navy and Air Force trainer.
The AT-6, a hardened version of the T-6, is in prototype phase — a prototype successfully completed its first test flight on September 10.
From the release:Hawker Beechcraft Corporation
(HBC) and Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] have teamed to compete for the opportunity to
provide a low-cost, low-risk solution to address U.S. Air Force (USAF) needs for a Light
Attack and Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. The USAF is expected to launch an
acquisition program in fiscal year 2010.
HBC, based in Wichita, Kan., will be prime contractor and Lockheed Martin Systems
Integration in Owego, NY, will be the mission systems integrator for the Beechcraft AT-6
LAAR aircraft. The AT-6 will be a product of the combined heritage and expertise of the
two companies, leveraging the existing worldwide fleet of Hawker Beechcraft T-6 aircraft
that recently passed the one million flying hour milestone, with the proven missions
systems integration expertise of Lockheed Martin.