Beechcraft says it has a launch customer for its AT-6 light attack aircraft, and could announce an order for 24 examples of the type before the end of 2013.
The company has held "serious discussions" for 24 aircraft, says Beechcraft chief executive Bill Boisture, speaking at the company's chalet.
He declined to identify the customer, however, but says the company has seen interest in the type from countries in the Middle East, Latin America, southwest Asia and southeast Asia.
He says a good deal of the interest has come from international operators of the T-6 trainer, upon which the AT-6 is based. The T-6 is also used by the US Air Force and the US Navy. The US Army also recently took delivery of two T-6s as part of a four aircraft order for the type.
Boisture took the opportunity to reiterate Beechcraft's displeasure at the US Government Accountability Office's rejection of its protest against the outcome of the USAF's Light Air Support (LAS) contest, which will see Embraer supply Afghanistan with 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.
Boisture concedes that Super Tucano deliveries are likely to go forward despite Beechcraft's protests, but has called on the US congress to examine the procedures and process involved in the LAS deal.
He also claims the Super Tucano is "less capable and more expensive" than the AT-6.
Interest in light attack aircraft has grown in recent years, as several countries in the developing world struggle with low-level insurgencies. Light attack types such as the AT-6 and Super Tucano can loiter on station longer than high speed jets, and can be forward deployed at austere airfields.
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Source: Flight Daily News