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A Plane For All Seasons

Hawker Beechcraft Corp. and Lockheed Martin are pooling resources and technologies to develop a trainer-cum-combat ready aircraft that may also pull duty for close air support or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Officials from the two companies formally announced the team effort today at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Symposium in Maryland.

Jim Maslowski, president for U.S. and International Government Business for Hawker Beechcraft, said the two companies began working on the program about 90 days ago.

The Air Force published a request for information in late July for a "light attack and armed reconnaissance" plane for strike, recon and aircraft training in support of irregular warfare. The Air Force would be looking for the plane starting in fiscal 2012, according to the RFI.

Maslowski said the team has filed an RFI and is now waiting to see what happens.

Hawker Beechcraft has been a leader in training aircraft, with its T-6 used around the world.

“We will be providing the platform,” Maslowski said, calling the T-6 airframe that is the basis of the AT-6 LAAR “the most capable and tested trainer program.

“Take that aircraft and ready it with the mission equipment that Lockheed Martin will bring in. And they bring in the mission capability side of it,” he said.

The aircraft, called the AT-6, is intended to be a plane for all seasons.

As a training aircraft it will include tandem seating for trainee and experienced pilot; but it’s also coming with a range of options – light armor, infrared missile warning and countermeasures; a full communications suite that includes secure voice and data, ROVER-compatible full motion video and satellite communications; a complete ISR suite; and weapons integration capabilities to accommodate .50-cal and 20mm guns, laser-guided missiles and rockets, and 250- and 500-lb general delivery, laser guided and GPS-aided bombs.

An AT-6 prototype already has been developed and will be in flight testing through spring of next year, the company said. Meanwhile, the Hawker Beechcraft/Lockheed Martin team is already producing a second prototype that it expects will improve performance and expand the mission capabilities it built into the first one.

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