Beechcraft claimed a communications first for the AT-6, its losing contender for the USAF Light Air Support (LAS) program. Meanwhile, Embraer described progress in producing the winning LAS contender, the A-29 Super Tucano.
The AT-6 has become the first fixed-wing aircraft to successfully use the situational awareness waveform of the single channel ground and airborne radio system (Sincgars), according to Beechcraft. Twin Rockwell Collins ARC-210 digital transceivers on the AT-6 communicated simultaneously with three joint terminal attack controllers in different ground locations. “Beechcraft’s AT-6 was selected as the first fixed-wing aircraft to perform this demonstration because of its advanced communications and data transfer capabilities, which enable it to perform complex close air support and combat search-and-rescue missions,” said Russ Bartlett, president of Beechcraft Defense.
Beechcraft has not announced any customer for the AT-6, but claims “growing interest from the defense establishment around the world.” The company made the first flight of a production aircraft on August 20.
Embraer said last week that it is on schedule to deliver the first of 20 A-29 Super Tucanos for the LAS program in the middle of next year. They are destined for the Afghan air force. Embraer opened a 40,000-sq-ft final-assembly hangar in Jacksonville, Fla., in March, and has since hired 40 employees to fill “critical positions.” This is the Brazilian company’s third investment in Florida, following the opening of a production line for Phenom business jets and an engineering and technology center, both in Melbourne.