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Air Force to Try Again with LAS Contract and Sierra Nevada

by: Matthew Potter
February 28, 2013

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

In a blow to the newly reorganized Hawker Beechcraft the U.S. Air Force after conducting a second source selection due to that company’s protest again selected Sierra Nevada for the Light Air Support (LAS) contract. That U.S. company will team with Brazil’s Embraer to provide the Afghan Air Force several modified turboprop aircraft. The initial contract is worth $950 million.

If all goes well there may be other customers for the system optimized for use in counter insurgency and non-conventional warfare. There were only two bidders with Hawker utilizing a version of their T-6 trainer already in use by the U.S. military.

An earlier attempt to award the contract late last year to Sierra Nevada was halted on Hawker’s protest which was upheld by the General Accountability Office (GAO). This led to a re-evaluation of the proposals submitted with Sierra Nevada being selected a second time.

As with the first attempt there is nothing to stop Hawker from protesting if they believe the source selection was conducted unfairly.

The selection of a non-U.S. aircraft has already received some criticism from Congress.

The Air Force has struggled the last decade to conduct these large aircraft source selections. The KC-X new aerial tanker program took 3 tries before Boeing (BA) won with a version of their 767 airliner. The CSAR-X combat rescue helicopter was ended after 2 rounds of bids and protests and the Air Force is yet to buy a replacement for their current fleet of MH-60 aircraft.

If Hawker does not protest this will actually be a victory for recent Air Force acquisitions as it only took 2 tries and was awarded fairly quickly. Deliver of the first aircraft, though, is reportedly delayed a full year.

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