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Sierra Nevada and Embraer’s Light Attack Contract Canceled by Air Force

by: Matthew Potter
February 29, 2012

Category: Brazil, Business Line, Companies, Contract Awards, Countries, Department of Defense, development program, Embraer, Events, Federal Budget Process, GAO, Hawker Beechcraft, Military Aviation, production program, Proposal, Protest, Services, Sierra Nevada, U.S. Air Force | RSS 2.0

Late yesterday the U.S. Air Force announced that it had canceled the contract signed in December with Sierra Nevada and Embraer to provide Light Attack aircraft for use by the Afghan military. The contract was in dispute by Hawker Beechcraft whose own proposal had been eliminated by the Air Force prior to source selection even taking place and no work was being done by the winners.

Hawker was in the process of suing in Federal court to get the decision to award to the winning team overturned. Earlier it had been denied a chance to protest as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled it did not file in time. During one of the first court hearings about the case the Air Force admitted that they had gone ahead and given the contract to Sierra Nevada who was going to use aircraft manufactured by Brazil’s Embraer SA. Sierra Nevada had established a plant in Jacksonville for this effort.

Not only did the Air Force cancel the existing contract they announced that they will conduct an investigation of the process used to select the winners. There was no discussion of whether there would be a new requirement and contest.

Hawker had bid a version of their T-6 trainer used by the Air Force and Navy currently while Sierra Nevada was going to use a variant of Embraer’s Tucano aircraft which is in use by several countries. The initial contract would provide systems for use by the Afghans with the potential for further sales to the U.S. or other customers.

This is the third major acquisition in the last ten years that the Air Force has struggled to award. The KC-X tanker took three tries before Boeing (BA) won it. The CSAR-X new rescue helicopter never was completed despite two tries and multiple protests. This means that the LAS contract will have to be begun again or a new requirement created.

Hawker Beechcraft has had its struggles over the recent years due to the general downturn in aviation. Facing a rougher future with the proposed cuts in the U.S. defense budget it had been reported that the company had recently engaged a law firm known for its work in bankruptcy or restructuring. The decision by the Air Force will only be good if a decision is made to have another contest which there is no guarantee that Hawker will win.

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One Comments

  1. New Light Air Support Contest for Sierra Nevada and Hawker Beechcraft? | Defense Procurement News on March 29th, 2012 2:30 am

    […] came out that the contract had already been awarded to Sierra Nevada. After reviewing the process the decision was made four weeks ago to cancel the contract and begin an investigation into the contracting […]

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