The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has taken delivery of its first Beechcraft AT-6E Wolverine (N610AT callsign “TEX2”) counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft, with the Southeast Asian nation planning to use them for training and as light-armed aircraft. They’ll replace Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainers that equip one of three squadrons with the Royal Thai Air Force’s flying training school at Kamphaeng Saen. In 2020, Thailand ordered 12 T-6C trainer aircrafts under a $162 million contract. Thailand also ordered eight AT-6 Wolverine counter-insurgency aircraft, signing a $143 million contract with Textron in November 2021. The RTAF is the first customer for the type.
The Beechcraft T-6 Texan II is a single-engine turboprop aircraft built by Textron Aviation. The T-6A is used by the U.S. Air Force for basic pilot training and Combat Systems Officer (CSO) training, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps for primary Naval Aviator training, and by the Royal Canadian Air Force (CT-156 Harvard II designation), Greek Air Force, Israeli Air Force (with the “Efroni” nickname), and Iraqi Air Force for basic flight training. The T-6B is the primary trainer for U.S. student naval aviators (SNAs). The T-6C is used for training by the Mexican Air Force, Royal Air Force, Royal Moroccan Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
The AT-6E Wolverine is developed from the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II airframe and designed for light attack, armed reconnaissance and counterinsurgency missions and can employ weapons included laser-guided bombs and rockets. The aircraft was the first fixed-wing aircraft to employ 2.75” laser-guided rockets successfully. The AT-6 Wolverine can accommodate more than 66 standard load configurations as well as its non-standard asymmetric configurations, which provides the most versatile mission readiness in its class. Two delivered to the U.S. Air Force for continued testing. In November 2021, eight were ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force as the AT-6TH.
The AT-6E has the same digital cockpit, but upgraded to include datalink and integrated electro-optical sensors along with several weapons configurations. Engine power is increased to 1,600 shp (1193 kW) with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-68D engine, and the structure is reinforced. Lockheed Martin A-10C mission computer with CMC Esterline glass cockpit and flight management systems command the AT-6E Wolverine. The AT-6E provides the most powerful allied-compatible ISR and targeting suite available with an L3 Wescam MX-15D multi-sensor suite, which provides color and IR cameras, laser designator, laser illuminator and laser rangefinder.