USAF takes delivery of first Wolverine light attack aircraft

U.S. Air Force photo

The United States Air Force received its first Textron/Beech AT-6E Wolverine, as announced by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. 

The Beechcraft T-6C has been used by the USAF as a training aircraft since 2003. Three of its light attack variant will now be used in the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network (AEROnet) program, which aims at developing a low-cost communications and data link system to “digitally links friendly forces, providing them with their own location, the location of other friendly forces and real-time enemy movement updates.” 

In addition to the ability to carry and fire different weapons, this aircraft is prepared to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. To save on costs, off-the-shelf solutions were used, including the mission computer of the A-10C Warthog and HOTAS-type (hands on lever and throttle) controls inspired by the F-16 Fighting Falcon, as reported by the Aviationist.

The Textron  AT-6E Wolverine recently competed with the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano in the Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) program. The competition was organized to select an inexpensive light attack platform to find a less costly alternative to stealth fighters such as F-35 Lightning or F-22 Raptor to carry out operations in asymmetrical conflicts. The contract was initially announced at 200 to 300 aircraft in total. But after years of tergiversation, it was suspended following a fatal crash, and eventually canceled on February 10, 2020.


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