For Pennies on the Dollar

Test pilots and engineers at the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Tucson, Ariz., are evaluating the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6C two-seat turboprop as one possible candidate for the light attack aircraft that the Air Force is considering procuring. “We learned a lot from initial testing earlier this year and made several adjustments,” said Lt. Col. Keith Colmer, AATC’s director of engineering. He added, “Future iterations of tests will integrate Hellfire missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinders, and various other weapons.” Cost effectiveness is a big factor in the deliberations since a light-attack platform could potentially serve in scenarios where a fighter’s full capabilities aren’t needed, and at a fraction of the cost. Indeed, the per-flying-hour costs of an A-10 and F-16 are pegged at $15,000 to $17,000, while the AT-6 has cost about $600 per hour to operate. (Davis-Monthan report by Maj. Gabe Johnson)