Hawker Beechcraft focuses on military, special mission aircraft

Hawker Beechcraft is putting an increased focus on its military and special mission aircraft, its CEO Bill Boisture said inside the company’s chalet at the Paris Air Show this morning.

Together, its military, special mission and their support make up 50 percent of the company’s business. 

Its products fill a “major market need,” Boisture said. There’s more of a requirement to deal with small insurgencies and counterterrorism in what’s been called “irregular warfare.”

They’re difficult to address with expensive weapon systems, he said. And armed forces are facing constrained budgets. The AT-6 light attack aircraft is more cost efficient.

Several months ago, Bositure said he leaned toward Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz and made a comment about the AT-6.

“Ten million bucks a copy,” he told Schwartz. “That’s a lot of fighting machine.”

In the special mission area, Hawker Beechcraft now has a King Air demonstrator configured as a medi-vac to show potential customers. The plane is on display at Hawker Beechraft’s static display.

The company announced an upgrade for King Air 350 aircraft that will provide significantly more electrical power for special mission applications.  In the meantime, the company is studying its King Air production line to see how best to standardize manufacturing processes for military use. That would make the process more efficient and less expensive.The question is at what point does the plane come off the commercial line to be customized for military and special mission uses, Boisture said.

The company has reorganized the team and is focusing on this section of the business.

Before, the thinking had been, “yeah, we can do that too,” Boisture said. Now it’s a concentrated effort.