An Entry-Level Warplane Debuts At Paris

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The trouble with warplanes is they are so darned expensive, but at this week's Paris Air Show, bargain hunters found a new option -- the affordable Air Truck, a modified two-seat cropduster, built by Air Tractor of Olney, Texas. The turboprop can carry up to four tons of bombs and missiles and machine guns, and can stay aloft for up to 10 hours to provide support to troops on the ground, or to easily hop across the North Atlantic. The Air Truck's speed tops out at 210 mph, but the ability to maneuver low and slow could be an advantage in many combat situations.

The airplane is expected to sell for about $5 million, according to the Associated Press, about half the price of today's military-version turboprops such as the Embraer Tucano or the Beechcraft T-6, and significantly less than the tens of millions that is the usual bracket for even the lowliest jet fighters. According to published reports, the Air Truck has been drawing crowds at Paris and plenty of interest from potential buyers, but so far no firm orders.