This year’s Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium inOrlando was understandably downbeat. Fewer US Air Force officials and theirindustry counterparts showed up due to the current fiscal climate. But somecontractors did show off their hardware. Their efforts paid-off, because whilefewer service officials attended, many top USAF officers did make the journeyto Florida.
Beechcraft was one contractor that did make an effort toshow-off their wares. Together with partner CAE, the company showed-off a simfor its AT-6 Texan II turbo-prop trainer/light attack plane. Beechcraft hopesto sell the Afghan air force 20 of the machines under the Light Air Supporttender, which is being administered by the USAF. The service was originallygoing to announce the winner of the contract today, but that’s now been pushedoff until the February 27. Beechcraft’s AT-6 is facing off against SierraNevada/Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano.
This sim, according to CAE’s engineers, replicates thecockpit of the AT-6 almost perfectly. Most of the components are direct copiesof the real aircraft’s systems except that they are not flight rated. The computerflight model is close, but not quite correct, the engineers told me–there is abit of Dutch roll and adverse yaw that’s not present in the real thing. It’s actuallyquite noticeable when “flying” the sim as I saw when I flew it. In the videobelow, one CAE’s engineers was kind enough to fly a quick demo for the DEWLine.
Staying on the topic of sims, BAE Systems also showed-off someof the high fidelity graphics capabilities they expect will be part of theirT-X jet trainer pitch. That’s of course assuming the USAF can afford to pay forthe T-X in this brutal fiscal environment. We’ll see.
Moving onto engines, Pratt & Whitney had their topexecutives present. I sat down with Bennett Croswell to talk about hiscompany’s efforts to develop a new variable cycle engine for the Air ForceResearch Laboratory’s Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD) program.More on that Monday probably.