The deal – worth US$70.2m – is the inaugural sale of the type to the USAF and was announced by the company on March 16. It includes the two aircraft, military type certification, training and four years of support services. The manufacturing and certification work will be conducted in Wichita, Kansas.
Gen David Goldfein, USAF Chief of Staff, said: “Our focus is on how a light attack aircraft can help our allies and partners as they confront violent extremism and conduct operations within their borders… Continuing this experiment, using the authorities Congress has provided, gives us the opportunity to put a small number of aircraft through the paces and work with partner nations on ways in which smaller, affordable aircraft like these can support their air forces.”
Brett Pierson, vice president of Defense Strategy and Sales at Textron Aviation Defense, said: “The AT-6 is a vital element of the National Defense Strategy to build ally and partner capacity, capability and interoperability – and does so at a fraction of the cost of other combat aircraft. We’re eager to deliver the aircraft to the air force in support of Air Combat Command’s (ACC) development of operational tactics and standards for exportable, tactical networks that improve interoperability with international partners.”
The aircraft will be solely used to further the air arm’s experimentation into its Light Attack programme and will not be a part of US Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM’s) planned light attack aircraft procurement plans. The US is set to be the launch customer for the type – which made the news earlier in the month after the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced the foreign military sale (FMS) of four AT-6C’s to Tunisia. Other nations have also expressed interest in the platform.
Pierson added that “the [USAF] and Navy flew the AT-6 during the Light Attack experiment, putting its combat-proven A-10 mission computer, WESCAM MX-15 [electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR)] sensor, Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network (AERONet) and other capabilities to work, employing a substantial amount of ordnance, demonstrating aircrew [refuelling] and [rearming] at [Forward Arming and Refuelling Points (FARP)] and conducting other activities in support of experiment objectives.”