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Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine

United States (2013)
Picture of Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine Light Attack / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft

The Beechcraft AT-6 fulfills the light strike role for a growing market need worldwide.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine Light Attack / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The light strike aircraft category continues to be a growing market around the globe as more advanced platforms grow increasingly out of reach for burgeoning air powers. Beechcraft Corporation, founded by Walter Beech in 1932 and based in Wichita, Kansas, found success with the introduction of their T-6 "Texan II" in 2001. Sales were strengthened by the adoption of the system under the United States Air Force (T-6A) and Navy (T-6B) branches. Additionally, the Canadian, Greek, Moroccan and Israeli air forces added their numbers to production which has since yielded over 630 units. The Texan II was born from the Pilatus PC-9 series of 1984 of which 250 were produced and sold around the world.

Adding to the T-6 lineage today is the AT-6, a turboprop-powered light strike/training platform intended to fulfill the increasing need by air powers to field a reliable and proven multi-role solution where jet-powered mounts are either too costly or considered overkill in certain theaters. The AT-6 is therefore marketed as an affordable alternative to the more expensive, technologically-advanced strike aircraft while covering a multi-faceted approach that includes Close Air Support (CAS), Forward Air Control (FAC), armed reconnaissance and other military-minded sorties. The design of the AT-6 is such that its two-seat configuration is also suitable for transitioning pilots to more advanced jet-powered mounts while covering aviation fundamentals and weapons delivery education through a more compact, low-cost end-product. The AT-6 shares some 85% commonality of parts with the original T-6 II platform, making it logistically-friendly for existing T-6 II supporters.

The AT-6 features a crew of two seated in tandem under a large, largely unobstructed canopy located at the center of the design. The engine - a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68D turboprop engine outputting at 1,600 horsepower - is mounted at the extreme front end of the slim fuselage driving a four-bladed propeller assembly. The downward-sloping nature of the nose assembly allows for excellent vision out of the cockpit and wings are low-set against the fuselage. Each straight appendage sits at the center of the fuselage length and is cleared to carry a variable stores set - primarily gun pods (12.7mm heavy machine gun), cannon pods (20mm automatic), rocket pods (unguided and laser-guided) and small conventional/laser-guided drop bombs (250lb/500lb) across its six (MIL-STD-1760) external hardpoints (four are plumbed for external fuel stores and seven total hardpoints are available). Unlike some other light strike aircraft designs the AT-6 supports laser-guided missiles. The empennage is relatively short, home to a single clipped vertical tail fin and low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage is of a tricycle arrangement and fully retractable. Range of this compact aircraft is listed at 2,895 kilometers (1,563 nautical miles).
The entire AT-6 weapons suite includes support for many US- and NATO-standard munitions: Mk 81 General-Purpose Bomb, Mk 82 General-Purpose Bomb, GBU-12 "Paveway II", GBU-49 "Enhanced Paveway II", GBU-58 "Paveway II", GBU-59 "Enhanced Paveway II" bombs. Missile support is limited to the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missile. As one of the few current aircraft to support laser-guided rockets, the AT-6 handles APKWS, TALON and GATR series 2.75" guided rocket types. Practice bombs can be used for weapons training.

Internally, the cockpit features three large multi-function displays (MFDs) that can be customized to suit pilot/co-pilot needs through the CMC Glass Cockpit and Flight Management System. A moving map display is listed as standard, a fighter aircraft-style HUD (Head-Up Display) is included and the cockpit is compatible with available night vision equipment. The mission systems suite is presented by defense powerhouse Lockheed Martin and based on the architecture developed for the A-10C (upgraded A-10 Thunderbolt II with "Precision Engagement" package). The pilot's helmet is integrated into the Scorpion Helmet-Mounted Cueing System which allows for marking of targets. Flight controls are of an F-16-style HOTAS (Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick) arrangement. Communications includes SATCOM and a protected voice and data link. The cockpit supplies full GPS navigation, GPS precision approach and digital terrain elevation data. Base defensive systems include a countermeasures package and missile (IR) warning indicator. The cockpit, fuel stores and engine compartment are protected through a light armor arrangement while each crewmember is granted a Martin Baker MKUS16LA 0/0 series ejection seat for worst-case scenarios.

Beechcraft markets the AT-6 for use in training (piloting and attack, joint exercise), irregular warfare (CAS, FAC, AR, strike coordination, armed interdiction, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)), homeland defense (patrol, low-level/low-speed interception, border security) and civilian-minded endeavors (Search & Rescue (SAR), disaster surveillance). Beyond its offensive-minded load out, the AT-6 can also be equipped with targeting and surveillance equipment to broaden its tactical value. Systems include the L-3 Wescam MX-15Di sensor (for ISR work), a full-color daytime camera system, a laser illuminator and a laser rangefinder.

Beechcraft maintains a long-running history in aviation including its military commitments covering an 80+ year history. To date, the concern has produced over 14,500 aircraft including 7,400 alone during World War 2 (1939-1945). Its decades of experience undoubtedly have shaped the refined AT-6.




  Program Updates  


October 2017 - The USAF has announced that a pair of AT-6 Wolverine attack aircraft will deploy to Iraq for an operational demonstration under "Combat Dragon III".

February 2018 - The AT-6 remains in contention for the USAF light attack requirement. It faces competition from the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano (detailed elsewhere on this site).

May 2018 - The Wolverine has entered a second round of testing with the USAF over Holloman AFB in New Mexico. It is competing against the Brazilian Super Tucano.




Cockpit picture from the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine Light Attack / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft
Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine Cockpit Picture
General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 80 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (510mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
20
20


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 2013
Type: Light Attack / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Beechcraft Corporation (Textron Aviation) - USA
Production: 20
Status: Active, Limited Service
Global Operators:
United States (possible)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
33.33 ft


Meters
10.16 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
34.12 ft


Meters
10.4 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
10.66 ft


Meters
3.25 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
5,886 lb


Kilograms
2,670 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
9,998 lb


Kilograms
4,535 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Turboprop engine of 1,600 shaft horsepower driving a four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
510 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
820 kph


Knots
443 kts

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft machine gun pod
Graphical image of an aircraft cannon pod
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Armament - Hardpoints (7):

Variable: Support for NATO/MIL-STD-1760 munitions across six weaponized hardpoints (of seven total) including rocket pods (guided/unguided), gun pods (12.7mm), cannon pods (20mm), and conventional drop ordnance (unguided/GPS-guided bombs). Up to 4 x external fuel tanks.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• AT-6 - Base Series Designation