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May 14, 2013
By Jim Moore
While stung by—and still protesting—the loss to Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp. of a lucrative U.S. Air Force contract to build light attack aircraft for Afghanistan, Beechcraft Corp. did land a deal to expand the T-6 turboprop fleet long used to train American military pilots.
The $210 million contract announced by the company May 13 will help keep Beechcraft’s Wichita, Kan., production staff busy through February 2015. It is the nineteenth production lot built for the Pentagon since deliveries of the turboprop T-6 began in 2000 under the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System program. The latest lot includes 35 aircraft, with an option for two more. The U.S. Navy will receive 33, with two slated for the U.S. Army, according to a company news release in which Beechcraft Defense Co. President Russ Bartlett noted the longstanding partnership.
“The contract will also provide increased stability for our Wichita workforce,” Bartlett said in the release.
Beechcraft in March delivered the 800th T-6, with a list of clients that also includes various foreign air forces. The latest version, the T-6C, has been fitted with glass cockpit and head-up displays to prepare pilots for high-tech frontline aircraft.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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