AT-6C: A Lethal Weapon, Too

Air National Guard conducts successful test of Hawker Beechcraft-Lockheed Martin light attack aircraft

AT-6 Bomb Testing Developed by a team led by Hawker Beechcraft and Lockheed Martin, the AT-6C light attack aircraft recently dropped precision-guided munitions for the first time as part of an ongoing demonstration by the Air National Guard. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.

The AT-6C light attack aircraft may look like a World War II fighter, but with its expanding list of high tech combat systems, it packs a punch that Chuck Yeager, Pappy Boyington and other flying aces of that era could only dream about.

Developed by a team led by Hawker Beechcraft and Lockheed Martin, the AT-6C recently completed another successful test, dropping precision-guided munitions for the first time as part of an ongoing demonstration by the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center (AATC).

"This was the first time that we brought light attack into the modern generation of weapons," said Lt. Col. Keith Colmer, director of engineering for AATC, in an article posted on the 162nd Fighter Wing website.

During three flight tests at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Arizona, the AT-6C dropped three GBU-12s - 500-pound laser guided bombs, hitting the intended targets each time.  The aircraft flew three sorties per day for two weeks employing multiple GBU-12s, GBU-58s, BDU-33 practice bombs and performing air-to-air gunnery with .50 caliber machine guns.

Working with the AATC and other industry partners, the team converted two Hawker Beechcraft T-6 Texan trainers into AT 6Cs – a sophisticated surveillance aircraft with light attack capability. Lockheed Martin incorporated the A-10C Thunderbolt II’s   precision engagement mission systems into the AT-6. The mission computers, situational awareness data links, helmet-mounted cueing technology, munitions, mounted avionics and other systems provide the AT-6C with the latest surveillance and attack capability.

At under $1,000 per flying hour, the cost-effective turbo-prop AT-6C may eventually fill a vital role for the Air Force, offering more robust combat systems than unmanned aircraft yet more affordable light attack capability than high-performance jet fighters.

Further tests are planned for the AT-6C in the coming months, including demonstrating a new 250-pound precision-munition that produces a smaller blast radius and less collateral damage and the AGM-114 Hellfire Air-to-Ground missile. During the final testing phase in December, AATC will demonstrate a precision longer range, lower collateral damage laser-guided rocket.