Hawker showcases AT-6, integrated weapons at Air Force expo

Hawker Beechcraft is highlighting its AT-6 multi-mission aircraft and the list of weapons that have been integrated into the plane at this week’s Air Force Association’s 2012 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

The company completed the third phase of weapons assessment, in which it employed more than 265 bombs and rockets and fired 3,000 rounds from the airplane’s .50-caliber guns.

The testing was performed in February at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The AT-6 is a light attack aircraft based on a derivative of the T-6 military trainer.

The testing has proven the AT-6’s ability to employ a broad range of weapons unmatched by any other light attack aircraft, company officials said.

The AT-6 is the first fixed-wing airplane to fire laser-guided rockets, said Derek Hess, senior vice president of business development at Hawker Beechcraft Defense Co.

The company collaborated with weapons partners to test three variants of laser-guided rockets because of interest from the Air National Guard, Hess said.

“We’re leading the way as far as light attack weapons from the laser-guided rockets perspective.”

The company has integrated and tested laser-guided missiles, laser-guided and general purpose bombs, and .50-caliber guns.

Separately, Hawker Beechcraft and its AT-6 are in the midst of a battle over a light air support contract from the U.S. Air Force.

In June, the company resubmitted its bid for the contract, in a competition with Sparks, Nev.-based Sierra Nevada Corp. and its partner, Brazil-based Embraer, which is offering its Super Tucano aircraft.

It’s the second time the company has submitted a bid for the contract to supply planes to help security efforts in Afghanistan.

The Air Force reopened the bidding after Hawker Beechcraft challenged the award of a $354 million contract to Sierra Nevada, saying it had been wrongly eliminated from the competition. The Air Force launched an internal investigation, saying it wasn’t satisfied with the documentation that supported the decision to award the bid to Sierra Nevada.

The Air Force expects to make a new decision in January.

“This is a new team that is evaluating the proposals that we resubmitted after the prior one,” Hess said. “What happened in the past is in the past, and we’re ready to get on with it.”

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