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Beechcraft Pursues New Buyers for AT-6


PARIS -- Beechcraft said it has interested international buyers for the AT-6 light attack aircraft it tried to sell to the U.S. Air Force to be provided to the Afghan air force.

The U.S. Air Force notably chose the Super Tucano produced by Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp twice over Beechcraft's AT-6. The U.S. Air Force had to re-open the competition after initially choosing the Super Tucano after Beechcraft protested the decision and mistakes were discovered with the acquisition paperwork.

Beechcraft again protested the decision after U.S. Air Force officials awarded Embraer with a $427 million contract to provide 20 light attack planes to the Afghan air force. The contract could be worth up to $900 million over the life of the contract.

Beechcraft officials said the company must move on even though officials still disagree with the decision. Bill Bosture, Beechcraft's CEO, said at a news conference at the Paris Air Show that Beechcraft has found buyers for the light attack aircraft, but said he couldn't say who and for how large of an order.

Bosture said the company also plans to lobby Congress through the lawmakers of its home state of Kansas to restrict the aircraft buy to 20.

John H. Gibson, president of Beechcraft Global Mission Support, said the company was disappointed by the U.S. Air Force's contract decision, but fully intends to find a launch partner for the aircraft soon. He said the market remains strong for a plane like the AT-6 in the regions such as South America, the Middle East and even parts of North Africa.

Bosture said the company intends to build 20 to 24 of the AT-6 per aircraft, which will be a new build aircraft, once a partner is finalized.

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