Photo: Jim Haseltine
The Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 light attack and armed reconnaissance aircraft, designed to meet the U.S. Air Force’s Building Partnership Capacity needs including those of the Afghanistan air force, continues to move through its end-to-end weapons validation testing with the launch of four 500-lb. GBU-12 Paveway II precision-guided bombs last week, says Derek Hess, director of the AT-6 program for Hawker Beechcraft.
All weapons were scored as valid hits by the combined USAF-Hawker Beechcraft assessment team. The tests are part of an Air National Guard-sponsored project conducted at the ANG/Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Tucson, Ariz. The program also includes completion of computer-aided weapons delivery-mode testing. The current competition between light attack aircraft for the Afghan contract is expected to end with a contract award on Oct. 31.
Validation testing of the AT-6 is continuing with employment of 250-lb. Raytheon Paveway II bombs and captive carry of the Raytheon 2.75-in. Talon laser-guided rocket. Follow-up testing will be conducted with laser-guided rockets, Lockheed-Martin’s AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Raytheon’s Griffin 35-lb. GPS/laser-guided bomb. Researchers are beginning to understand and define the applicability of small, smart rockets, Hess says.
In addition to the Talon, other competing 2.75-in. smart-rocket designs include the ATK guided advanced tactical rocket, BAE Systems’ advanced precision weapons system and the Lockheed Martin DAGR.