The market for the light attack fighter aircraft is continuously seeing an increase in variation across the globe as more and more advanced versions of these fighter jets are coming into the market. One of the reputable companies in the manufacturing of the light attack fighters is the Beechcraft Corporation which was founded way back in 1932 and created many fighter aircraft that served numerous combat roles in World War II. The company is based in Wichita, Kansas. They recently gained success in the world of aviation market with their fighter aircraft Beechcraft T-6 II introduced back in 2001.
The sale of this aircraft led to it being adopted by the USAF as the model T-6A and by the US Navy as model T-6B. In addition to the US, other world militaries like Israel, Greece, Morocco, and Canada also included this aircraft in their fleet of light attack fighters. The design of the Texan II came from the Pilatus PC-9 of which nearly 250 units were sold across the world.
Now in that long line of T-6 family comes the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine. The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is the turboprop-powered aircraft that serves as both the training and the light attack fighter roles. These aircraft and their double intended platforms are best to be used by the air forces to give reliable results in the particular war theaters where the loss of a jet-powered fighters was not a viable option.
Combat roles of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine:-
The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is marketed to the world militaries as the affordable alternative to the technologically advanced and expensive jet-powered light strike fighters. Despite being a cheap alternative, the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is able to cover the multiple roles of a light attack fighter like the following for various military sorties.
- CAS (Close Air Support)
- FAC (Forward Ai Control)
- Armed Reconnaissance
The design of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is made in such a way that it allows for the two seats of the aircraft to allow the pilots to transition from a simple flight aircraft to a weapons delivery platform in a low-cost product. The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine shares the similarity for its multiple parts with the base design of the Texan T-6 II which makes it a logistic friendly platform for the T-6 II.
The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is offered with the two-seat tandem seating configuration under the aircraft’s large and unobstructed canopy that is located in the center of the overall design. The nose assembly is of downward sloping nature which allows for the pilot to have an excellent vision from across the cockpit and to the sides of the wings with the low-set fuselage section. The empennage of the aircraft is short and the end has a single clipped vertical tail fin while the sides have horizontal planes that are low set. As for the undercarriage of the aircraft, it is of the tricycle arrangement which is fully retractable.
Powerplant and other specs:-
A single Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is powered by one Pratt & Whitten Canada (PWC) PT6A-68D turboprop engine which delivers approximately 1100 to 1600 horsepower. This much power is used to propel the aircraft by driving its four-bladed propeller mounted in the nose section to achieve a top speed of almost 373 mph with a maximum range of 1553 miles at a service ceiling of about 35105 feet.
The aircraft has 7 hardpoints that are used for equipping the aircraft with armaments as well as the fuel drop tanks. The hardpoints are basically used for equipping the aircraft with munitions stores like the following.
- Primary machine guns of 12.7 mm
- Automatic cannon pods of 20mm
- Unguided and the laser-guided rocket pods
- Laser-guided drop bombs or the conventional drop bombs of 500 or 250 lbs on all 6 external hardpoints
The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is designed to house the wide range of weapons of both the US and the NATO standards like the following.
- Mk 81 General purpose Bomb
- Mk82 General Purpose Bomb
- GBU-12 Paveway II
- GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II
- GBU-58 Paveway II
- GBU-59 Enhanced Paveway II
As for the missile support for the aircraft, it is limited to only the anti-tank AGM-114 Hellfire missile. The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is one of the only few aircraft that supports the following laser-guided rockets.
As for the training purposes, the practice bombs are used.
The cockpit features the 3 large MFDs (Multi-Function Displays) that are customizable for the use of both the pilot and the co-pilot through the Flight Management System and the CMC Glass Cockpit. The pilots are also provided with a HUD (Heads Up Display) along with the night vision system in the cockpit.
The helmet of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine’s pilot is integrated with the Scorpion Helmet Mounted Cueing System that allows marking the targets. As for the flight controls the aircraft is has the HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) arrangement which is similar to that of the F-16. For communication, the aircraft has the SATCOM as well as a voice and data link that is protected. In addition to this, the cockpit also provides the following systems as well.
- GPS Navigation
- GPS Precision
- Digital terrain evaluation
For the base defense system, the aircraft is equipped with the missile warning indicators and the countermeasure package.
The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is marketed by the Beechcraft Corporation for use in the following roles.
- Irregular warfare armed interdiction
- ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance)
- Homeland Defense
- SAR (Search & Rescue)
- Disaster Surveillance
The tactical value of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine is often increased by equipping the aircraft with the surveillance and targeting systems. These systems include the following.
- L-3 Wescam
- MX-15Di Sensor
- Daytime full-color camera system
- Laser illuminator
- Laser rangefinder
The aircraft entered its 2nd testing phases with the United States Air Force back in May of 2018 held over the Holloman Air Force Base located in New Mexico. The aircraft is competing against another low-cost light fighter aircraft; the Brazilian Super Tucano. The Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine was showcased to the world at the 2019’s Paris Air Show held in June of 2019.