According to industry officials quoted in Inside the Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force is considering purchasing as many as six Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 light-attack aircraft that would be used for training joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) responsible for calling in air strikes.
The RAAF currently uses four aircraft at its Forward Air Control Development Unit; however, there is talk of the service acquiring between four and six replacement aircraft, according to Jim Maslowski, Hawker Beechcraft’s president of US and international government business.
“They have a dire need to be able to qualify their JTACs,” Derek Hess, the company’s director of light attack, said during a February 1 telephone interview.
“You can certainly do that more affordably with an AT-6 than you can with one of their Hornets, or their Super Hornets or an F-35 down the road.
The AT-6 is fully equipped with six weapons / stores locations and can be armed with a variety of weapons including guided missiles, laser / GPS-guided bombs and 2.75in rocket pods. (photo : Airforce Technology)
The company has also pitched the baseline T-6 trainer as part of the RAAF’s Air 5428 program, an effort to acquire new trainer aircraft.
Raytheon Australia is the prime contractor and has teamed with BAE Systems Australia.
The companies expect the RAAF to release a request for tender later in 2011.
“The AT-6 piece would fit very nicely because if they pick the T-6 [for the training replacement], then you have a common inventory,” Maslowski said.
In addition to Australia, there has been international interest in the aircraft, according to Maslowski.
“We’re in conversation with Australia and there is interest in...other nations as well,” he said, declining to name the countries.