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  1. Analysis
November 30, 2020

Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine – a next-generation light-attack aircraft

The AT-6 Wolverine aircraft is developed by Beechcraft, a Textron Aviation brand. It is tailored to meet the light attack requirements of the armed forces worldwide.

The AT-6 Wolverin e aircraft is developed by Beechcraft, a in c” target=”_blank”>Textron Aviation brand. It is tailored to meet the light attack requirements of the armed forces worldwide.

With its flexible weapons and external fuel tank configurations, the AT-6 Wolverin e light attack/armed reconnaissance aircraft offers warfighters an ideal solution to engage targets in low-in tensity combat missions.

The multi-mission aircraft is designed to meet the demandin g requirements of warfighters while accommodatin g 95% of the aircrew population. A full suite of synchronised ground-based train in g capabilities, as well as an established global logistics in frastructure, further enable AT-6 to outperform its contenders.

Army Technology looks at what makes the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverin e an affordable, yet effective light attack aircraft.

Low main tenance makes AT-6 Wolverin e affordable for light attack missions

in e-450×340.jpg” alt=”Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverin e” width=”450″ height=”340″ /> in g/search/?q[]=in c” target=”_blank”>Textron Aviation Defense LLC” target=”_blank”>in c” target=”_blank”>Textron Aviation Defense secured a $70.2m contract from the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to deliver two Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverin e aircraft, in March 2020. Image courtesy of in c” target=”_blank”>Textron Inc.

AT-6 Wolverin e leverages the proven capabilities of Beechcraft T-6 series that was preferred by the US Air Force (USAF)/US Navy Join t Primary Aircraft Train in g System (JPATS) programme. It offers an 85% parts commonality with the T-6 Texan II and is made available to customers at a fraction of the acquisition, main tenance and train in g costs of conventional combat aircraft. It currently costs less than $1,000 an hour to operate the AT-6.

The USAF contin ues to evaluate low-cost, close-air support platform options that may help reduce the burden on front-lin e fighter squadrons. in c” target=”_blank”>Textron Aviation received a $70.2m contract from the USAF to deliver two AT-6 Wolverin e aircraft, in March 2020.

Most versatile light attack aircraft in its class

The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverin e light attack aircraft is compatible with more than 66 standard load configurations, in addition to non-standard asymmetric configurations, makin g it the most versatile mission-ready platform among its counterparts.

Controlled by Lockheed Martin ‘s A-10C mission computer, along with modern glass cockpit and flight management systems, the AT-6 Wolverin e is the most effective light attack offerin g available in the market.

No dearth of weapons for combat missions

in e-450×340.jpg” alt=”Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverin e” width=”450″ height=”340″ /> The AT-6 Wolverin e can be armed with more than 13 general-purpose and precision munitions. Image courtesy of in c” target=”_blank”>Textron Inc.

Seven dedicated hard-poin ts, three each on the two win gs and one under the central fuselage, allow the AT-6 Wolverin e to carry more than 13 general-purpose and precision munitions for close air support and light attack missions.

The fuselage-mounted hard-poin t holds the MX-15Di sensor suite, while the remain in g weapon stations can carry 0.50 calibre guns, AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided air-to-surface missiles, MK-81 and MK-82 general-purpose bombs, GBU-12 and GBU-58 Paveway II, GBU-49 and GBU-59 enhanced Paveway II laser-guided bombs, GBU-38 in ertia-aided munitions, APKWS, TALON and GATR laser-guided rockets, practice bombs, flares, and rockets.

All the weapons on the AT-6 are in tegrated usin g the US military standards with Seek Eagle certification and are in terfaced with the plug-and-play weapons management system architecture.

The win g tip-mounted sensors enable the detection of in comin g missiles while the crew can launch flares or chaff to deceive them.

Furthermore, AT-6 is the world’s first fixed-win g aircraft to fire laser-guided rockets.

Always mission-ready

The L3 Wescam MX-15D multi-sensor suite on the AT-6 Wolverin e allows it to easily perform light attacks, armed reconnaissance, and counter-in surgency (COIN) missions. The sensor suite in tegrates colour and IR cameras, laser designator, laser illumin ator, and laser rangefin der.

The light attack aircraft is also suitable for close air support (CAS), forward air control, armed overwatch, strike coordin ation and reconnaissance, maritime patrol, airborne in terdiction, in telligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), flight train in g, and homeland security missions.

An optimal combin ation of power and performance

in e-450×340.jpg” alt=”Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverin e” width=”450″ height=”340″ /> The light attack aircraft is powered by a 1,600shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68D engin e. Image courtesy of Airwolfhound.

The AT-6 Wolverin e is in stalled with a 1,600shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68D engin e, offerin g a higher power-to-weight ratio compared with similar aircraft in its class.

The AT-6 Wolverin e has a higher airspeed and Mach envelope (.67 Mach) to hold and dispose of more external systems than other light attack aircraft of its size.

Combin ed with a low centre of gravity and smaller taxi turn radius, the superior power-to-weight ratio allows the aircraft to operate from austere, unimproved airstrips.

AT-6 Wolverin e Tech Specs and design

The fixed-win g aircraft measures 10.1m-long and 3.2m-high while its win gspan and win g area are of 10.4m and 16.60m² respectively. Made of composite materials, the airframe of the low-win g monoplane provides a basic weight of 2,671kg and enables the aircraft to take-off/land with a maximum weight of 4,536kg.

The AT-6 Wolverin e has a maximum in ternal fuel storage capacity of 544kg and can be mounted with two external fuel tanks to hold 932kg of fuel in total. The maximum usable fuel load carried by the aircraft when fitted with four external fuel tanks is 1,319kg.

The futuristic design of Wolverin e’s flight deck in tegrates a digital glass cockpit and head-up display, tactical navigation, sensor display, weapons management, and weapons delivery modes. Information is presented by three 5in x 7in multi-function displays. The Martin Baker ML16LA ejection seat aboard the aircraft provides zero-airspeed, zero-altitude safe escape capability.

The cockpit is further equipped with F-16 hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS), helmet-mounted cuein g system, movin g map, sensor displays, and targetin g system. Communications are supported by UHF satellite communications (SATCOM) and a protected voice and data lin k.

The light attack aircraft has a maximum speed of 827km/h while the four external tanks ensure a maximum ferry range of 3,195km.

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