A pair of US Air Force (USAF) Beechcraft AT-6E Wolverines have arrived at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Their arrival was announced by the 23rd Wing Public Affairs department on January 19.
The aircraft, serial numbers 20-1101 and 20-1102, were delivered to the base on January 12. Pilots from the 81st Fighter Squadron, who are on loan to the 23rd Wing, will be flying the AT-6Es alongside partner nation personnel from Colombia, Nigeria, Thailand and Tunisia. Air Combat Command invited the partner nations to come to the US to further mature and co-develop tactics, techniques and procedures to counter violent extremist organizations while simultaneously demonstrating the capabilities of the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network (AERONet), an exportable and affordable data link.
The collaboration, set to conclude in May 2022, will demonstrate AERONet’s ability to enhance communication between partner nations and US forces. As the US works to build coalitions with partner nations, one goal is to create shared knowledge of a common platform that partner nation allies can employ. The overarching goal is to build capacity and capability of US partner nations, enhancing the ability to seamlessly work together and enabling the successes of any future operation.
The USAF was the first confirmed customer for the Wolverine, with a $70.2m order for the two aircraft now at Moody being announced on March 16, 2020. Although delivery of the first of these was announced on February 17, 2021, since then they had remained operating from the factory in Wichita, Kansas, while military type certification activities were completed. These are the only two ordered by the service to date.
The first export order for the type was announced by Textron Aviation Defense at the Dubai Air Show on November 13 last year, when the company said it had concluded an $143m contract for eight Wolverines with Thailand. Designated locally as the AT-6TH, they will be operated by the Royal Thai Air Force’s 41st Wing at Chiang Mai Air Base.
On February 28, 2020, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that US State Department approval had been granted for the acquisition of four AT-6C Wolverines by the Tunisian Air Force. However, to date there has been no official announcement of an order being confirmed for these aircraft. Additionally, mention that Colombian and Nigerian personnel are also to fly the AT-6Es at Moody suggests that both countries could be likely future candidates for purchasing the type.