Hawker may have to wait until July to find out if it has won Air Force contract

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June 09--The decision on whether Hawker Beechcraft will secure a U.S. Air Force Light Support contract may slip a little.

A decision was first expected in June, but there are rumblings it could slide into July, a Hawker Beechcraft official said.

Winning the award would help keep Hawker Beechcraft's production line for T-6 military aircraft running.

The company put its AT-6 light support and surveillance aircraft up against Embraer's Super Tucano military aircraft in its bid.

"We'll see what happens," Russ Bartlett, Hawker Beechcraft director of U.S. and international government business, said this week.

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 said. But 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 and other missions.

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

Winning the Air Force contract would help sustain 1,400 jobs in 20 states, including 800 at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita.

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

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