Textron owned Beechcraft is putting its hope on a fat order from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence for its T-6 turboprop trainer aircraft, a company spokesman acknowledged. Beechcraft is about to finish the production of the 700-aircraft deal for the US military.
Since 2000 the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II has been replacing the Cessna T-37B Tweet within the US Air Force, with 449 T-6s delivered. The remainder of the 700-aircraft US deal goes to the US Navy (T-6B) and US Marine Corps, plus four specially adapted aircraft ordered by the US Army.
The Beechcraft trainer has had success abroad as well, with versions flying with the NATO Flying Training in Canada (24 CT-156 Harvard II), the Hellenic Air Force (25 T-6A + 20 armed T-6A NTA), the Israeli Air Force (25 T-6A), the Iraqi Air Force (15 T-6A + 24 T-6C ordered), the Mexican Air Force (12 T-6C+), the Mexican Navy (2 T-6+), the Royal Moroccan Air Force (24 T-6C), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (11 T-6C).
Now hopes are high for the United Kingdom, which sees the T-6 as the replacement for the Short Tucano in training both the Royal Air Force as well as Royal Navy future combat jet pilots; with an order in the range of 80 to 120 aircraft awaiting. As for new export customers: it won’t be easy for Beechcraft. The Pilatus PC-9 and PC-21 and the armed Embraer A-29 Super Tucano are very tough competitors, already having scooped up orders like for the Afghan Air Force that years earlier might have gone more naturally to Beechcraft.
There may be some other light on the horizon though. Upgrades of the basic A-model within the US Air Force, US Navy and Hellenic Air Force to C-standard are expected. The current C-model has a digital class cockpit with HUD, multi-function displays, HOTAS to access functions with buttons on the flight control stick and wing hard points, nice featured to incorporate on the A-model.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The T-6C Texan advanced trainer (Image © Beechcraft)