Hawker hopes site will help it land AT-6 deal

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Aug. 10--Hawker Beechcraft has rolled out a new website touting the benefits of its AT-6 light attack aircraft as it waits to hear whether it will beat a Brazilian competitor for an Air Force contract worth up to $950 million.

The website -- missionreadyat6.com -- was launched internally last week to employees but is intended for external use.

"It's designed to tell the story of the AT-6," said Hawker Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander.

An Air Force decision on the light support contract was first expected in June but now is expected this month or next.

Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture said last week during a second-quarter earnings call that the award is imminent.

"We continue to believe that the AT-6 is the leader in this competition and the right solution for the missions of the USAF and its building partner capacity initiatives," Boisture told analysts.

Winning the award would help keep Hawker Beechcraft's production line for T-6 military aircraft running. The AT-6 is up against Embraer's Super Tucano military aircraft.

The initial contract is to supply 20 aircraft to two air bases in Afghanistan and another 15 to use in "building partner capacity," the Air Force has said. That number could grow to 55 aircraft worth up to $950 million.

The Air Force has said deliveries will begin in April 2013.

The AT-6 is based on the company's T-6 trainer used to train Air Force and Navy pilots under the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System contract. Other countries are also using the trainer.

The AT-6 is designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch, homeland defense and security.

Final deliveries of trainers to the U.S. Navy under the JPATS program are scheduled to take place in 2015.

Winning the Air Force contract would help sustain 1,400 jobs in 20 states, including 800 at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita. That's how many people currently work on the AT-6 and T-6 programs at the company and its U.S. suppliers and partners.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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