Tunisian AT-6C aircraft purchase approved


The United States has approved a possible military sale to Tunisia of four AT-6C Wolverine light attack aircraft worth an estimated $325 million including associated equipment.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the possible sale on 25 February after Tunisia requested four AT-6C aircraft as well as 468 Mk 81 250 lb bombs, 48 Mk 82 500 lb bombs, 3 290 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) rockets, two spare Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68D 1600 shp engines, six L-3 WESCAM MX 15D Multi-Spectral Targeting System, six 12.7 mm machineguns as well as other equipment and training.

“The proposed sale will improve Tunisia’s ability to meet current and future threats by increasing their capability and capacity to counter-terrorism and other violent extremist organization threats. The AT-6 platform will bolster their capability to respond to and engage threats in multiple areas across the country. Additionally, the procurement of the AT-6 aircraft strengthens interoperability between Tunisia, regional allies, and the United States,” the DSCA said.

Textron Aviation Defence is the primary contractor.

Tunisia last year requested a dozen T-6C Texan II trainers, with the DSCA notifying Congress of this sale on 10 October 2019. The DSCA said Tunisia had requested the possible sale of 12 T-6C Texan II aircraft, spare engines, flight trainer, spares, ground handling equipment, support equipment and support worth an estimated $234 million.

The proposed T-6C sale is aimed at replacing Tunisia’s aging trainer fleet and allowing Tunisia to continue training pilots to support its counter-terrorism and border security missions, the DSCA said. The Tunisian Air Force flies F-5 Tiger II, MB326, L-59T and SF260 aircraft in the combat and trainer roles.

Morocco is the only other African nation that flies T-6s, ordering 24 for $185 million in October 2009. These were delivered from 2011.

The T-6 is a development of the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainer and was developed to fill the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System role for the US Air Force and the US Navy. The C model is a further refinement of the T-6A Texan II with an integrated glass cockpit, advanced avionics suite and hard-point wings that can accommodate auxiliary fuel tanks. In addition to the hard-point wings, the T-6C’s upgraded avionics include a Head-Up Display, Up Front Control Panel, three Multifunction Displays and Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) controls. This equipment mirrors the systems and capabilities of front-line strike fighter aircraft, while retaining all the inherent training and flying characteristics of the T-6 trainer.

The AT-6C Wolverine light attack aircraft has seven hardpoints, allowing it to carry 1 860 kg of ordnance including HMP-400 .50 calibre machineguns, Mk 81 and Mk 82 unguided bombs, GBU-12, GUB-58, GBU-49 and GBU-59 Paveway II guided bombs, laser-guided rockets, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and flares.

Targeting is through an MX-15D multi-sensor suite with colour and infrared cameras, laser designator, laser illuminator and laser rangefinder.