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Air Force Will Attempt Second Contest for Light Air Support Aircraft

by: Matthew Potter
April 16, 2012

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

Following up on its decision to cancel the initial contract to Sierra Nevada and Brazil’s Embraer for the initial order of Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft for use by the Afghan military the U.S. Air Force now plans a new contest. The contract was protested by Hawker Beechcraft whose T-6 based proposal was removed from the competition. After the start of an investigation into the source selection which continues the service’s leadership decided to end the first attempt and begin again.

The Air Force investigation found that there was not sufficient justification for the decisions to remove Hawker and award the $300 million contract to Sierra Nevada. This company teamed with Embraer which would see their Tucano based system assembled in Florida.

Now it is expected that an amended Request for Proposals will be issued in the near future allowing the two companies to compete again.

If the program goes as planned it could be worth up to $1 billion in orders.

With the new proposal process it is hoped that a decision will be made next year.

Hawker is struggling and may face bankruptcy in the near future and the LAS win would be a major boon for the company. Brazil is looking at buying a new fighter and Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 is one of the major contenders and a win for Embraer is believed to be helpful for that contest.

The Air Force has struggled over the last decade with awarding new contracts. There was the long running KC-X tanker program which took three attempts to award finally to Boeing. The new combat rescue helicopter, CSAR-X, went through two iterations but is now currently on hold. The cornerstone of the new Air Force, Lockheed’s (LMT) Joint Strike Fighter, is facing cost and schedule problems. The Light Air Support program seems to continue that trend.

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