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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hawker Beechcraft's AT-6 to employ laser-guided rockets

Molly McMillin
Air Capital Insider

Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6 light attack aircraft successfully launched laser-guided rockets in test sorties last month, the company said today, the first fixed-wing aircraft to launch a laser-guided rocket.

Weapon testing is the part of ongoing Congressionally-funded operational evaluation of the AT-6, the company said.

“This is a big milestone in the future of Hawker Beechcraft’s Light Attack program,” Derek Hess, Hawker’s director of the program, said in a statement.

The company continues to see “great interest” in the AT-6 from military forces around the world, Hess said. “The capability to employ laser-guided rockets is another reason why the aircraft is unmatched in the light attack aircraft market today.”

In November, the program received a blow after the Air Force eliminated Hawker Beechcraft’s bid on a light air support contract. The Air Force awarded the contract to Sierra Nevada Corp., Embraer’s U.S. partner on the contract. Hawker Beechcraft has filed suit.

In the testing of the laser rocket, weapons were fired from about three nautical miles and guided to their targets using an airborne laser from the AT-6 or a ground laser from Elgin Air Force Base’s range, the company said.

“Both rockets performed flawlessly and were scored as hits on their respective targets,” it said.

Rocket testing included BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System and Raytheon’s TALON.

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