Is Hawker Beechcraft an American company?

AT6 runway credit USAF.jpgLoren Thompson argues in a blog last week there are two competitors for the US Air Force contract for a light attack armed reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft: “An American plane made by Hawker Beechcraft designated the AT-6, and a Brazilian plane made by Embraer designated the EMB-314.”

This is a bad thing, according to Thompson. “The fact the Air Force is even entertaining a bid from Brazil tells us that this Pentagon is out of touch with economic realities.”

I won’t argue with his conclusion, but the facts need a little clarity.

The AT-6 may be an “American plane”, but Hawker Beechcraft is not truly an American company.

Hawker, of course, is a brand invented in the UK, which migrated across the Atlantic in the early 1980s when British Aerospace sold its business jet division to Beechcraft. That business was later acquired by Raytheon. Two decades later, the brand Hawker Beechcraft was invented when Raytheon sold the business to two investors — Goldman Sachs and Toronto-based Onex.

In fact, Hawker Beechcraft is at least a half-Canadian company, with half of its product line-up from the United Kingdom.

[UPDATE: I actually forgot the most important point. Thompson writes that the AT-6 is an American aircraft. The AT-6, of course, was not designed by Beechcraft. It was developed on license from the Pilatus PC-9. Last I checked, Pilatus is still based in Stans, Switzerland, which is about 275km from where I'm typing this sentence at the Geneva convention center.]

Meanwhile, Hawker chief executive Bill Boisture is here in Geneva, Switzerland, where I’m covering the EBACE show. He addressed reporters this morning, and noted the company’s interest in the LAAR contract.



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8 Responses to Is Hawker Beechcraft an American company?

  1. Lightndattic 17 May, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    “The fact the Air Force is even entertaining a bid from Brazil tells us that this Pentagon is out of touch with economic realities.”

    The fact that Dr Thompson will say anything he’s being paid to say regardless of the facts tells me he’s out of touch with actual reality. You know, the one we live in?

  2. jetcal1 17 May, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    I think Cessna might be the only US owned company out of the old big 3 genav companies.

    It’s a good thing there is no French equivalent or we would be garnering complaints about a lack of competition by the US again.

  3. snogglethorpe 17 May, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Wait … “the lexington institute” is one of these nutty-ass fringe libertarian “free-market” outfits. Aren’t they supposed to be for free trade?!

    Go for the (Embraer) Super Tucano, guys. Way cooler to begin with, and as a bonus, you’ll apparently piss off Loren Thompson!

  4. Moose 17 May, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    2 easy solutions to this problem.

    First, buy the OV-10X instead.

    Second, ship Loren Thompson off to Siberia.

  5. Saf 18 May, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    The Air Force’s mission is to defend the USA, not provide jobs. If we get the best bang for the buck from a “Brazilian” product, then go “Brazilian.”

    A corrolary is that no firm truly belongs to one nation anymore, they are multi-national, or even un-national: their allegiance lies only with their balance sheet. That is capitalism. The military’s allegiance is to the nation, not to any company.

  6. A. Verdade 18 May, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Perhaps your readers may want to review the real history of Hawker Beechcraft at http://www.hawkerbeechcraft.com/about_us/history/
    and not your revisionist version.

    As an air capital history buff…..

    Beechcraft was founded in Wichita, Kansas in 1932. When Raytheon acquired the Hawker product line, assembly was indrawn to Wichita creating 100′s of new US jobs. Same when what became the Beechjet was indrawn from Mitsibushi….hundreds of more US jobs in Wichita. When the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System program was awarded to then Raytheon Aircraft, it was awarded based on a completely redesigned aircraft designed by Wichita engineers. The original PC-9 did not meet US Government requirements as-is. Not a common part exists with the PC-9 and since the first T-6 started down the Wichita producton line, all and T-6 aircraft have been manufactured in Wichita, Kansas. No parts from Stans. Equity held by some large investors? Yes…but so what. ONEX and Goldman-Sachs are publicly traded. Who invests in them? Perhaps you and I do. Bottom-line…..still built in Wichita.

  7. jetcal1 18 May, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Hello Verdade,
    I find it difficult to fathom that there is not a single bit of commonality between the T-6 & PC-9.

    Does that mean Pilatus does not get a royalty check for each aircraft built?

    As an Air Capital history buff, I’m sure you recognize the fact that the US has ceded significant portions of aerospace manufacturing to other countries.

  8. Blackaces41 21 May, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    I am sorry but this Aircraft is not light attack Aircraft. It has not history of combat. The Brazilian A-29 Tucan does. It has been used in attacks against the FARC in Columbia and Venezuela also agianst the FARC. The Beachcraft/Pilatus has to carries its gun in an external pod benith the aircraft.The Tucan carries Guns in the wing root like old WWII fighters did. Also allows for more wing stores to be carried below the wing. Brazil has already sevice factories set up in this country and and employess 2000 persons. Pilatus would have to set one up.

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