US Air Force Aborts Super-Tocano LAS Selection

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The U.S. Air Force selects A-29 Super Tucano for the Light Attack Aircraft Program. Photo: Embraer
AT6 performing a strafing pass. HBC

The US Air Force is moving to cancel the disputed $355 million Light Air Support (LAS) contract awarded in December 2011 to Sierra Nevada Corp., (SNC). This contract awarded SNC to 20 Brazilian AT-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft made by Embraer Defence. The Afghan Air Force slated these aircraft for light air strike operation supporting Afghan security operations and coalition forces.

The second bidder, Hawker Beechcraft Corp. protested the decision to award SNC immediately after the decision was announced, after the Air Force disqualified HBC disqualified it from the competition days before the announcement, leaving SNC as a single bidder in this tender. Following HBC’s protest the Air Force suspended the contract January 4, 2012. The case was scheduled for hearing next week. The Air Force said advised the Department of Justice yesterday that it will take corrective action and set aside the contract to Sierra Nevada effective March 2.

HBC said in a statement it received notice Feb. 28 that the U.S. Air Force will set aside the contract, effective March 2, 2012, and reinstate Hawker Beechcraft Defense Company to the competitive range under the procurement.

“This LAS competition is about much more than 20 aircraft for Afghanistan or a billion dollar contract,” said Bill Boisture, Chairman, Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. “It is about the U.S. Air Force’s ability to build relationships with U.S. partner nations around the world for a generation to come. We continue to believe the American manufactured AT-6 is the right aircraft for this critical United States mission.” The LAS contract ultimately could be worth nearly $1 billion, depending on future orders.

Gen. Donald J Hoffman Commander, US Air Force Materiel Command has initiated an investigation into the procurement, with the first report due March 12.