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LAS Controversies Continue

by: Matthew Potter
March 18, 2013

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

In this time of Continuing Resolution the U.S. Air Force’s Light Air Support (LAS) contract is one of the few major new programs to begin in FY13. The second attempt to conduct the contest led to same result as the first. Sierra Nevada (SNC) using a airframe from Brazil’s Embraer was selected and Beechcraft’s T-6 based proposal was rejected. As with the first attempt Beechcraft has filed a GAO protest.

The Air Force has announced that using available policy they will override the stop work that normally happens for 100 days while the GAO works out the protest. This has been done in the “best interests of the United States or unusual and compelling circumstances.” Due to the first protest and the do over on the contest it is already a year behind schedule. This new one could also cause several months delay.

The protest and the award remained tied up in politics and concerns about loss of work to a U.S. company. Sierra Nevada had originally planned to have a facility in Florida to do some of the work finishing the aircraft but they would be assembled in Brazil. The company is now looking at ways to increase the amount of jobs created by the contract through “in-sourcing” the work.

The loss of the contract to the U.S. company has been a further blow to the Kansas military aviation industry. Boeing (BA) has moved their work from the Wichita facility to Washington for the new KC-46A tanker. Beechcraft had planned to build their AT-6 in the state. As such it is attracting the interest of Kansas’ Congressional delegation.

With so few major programs and contracts predicted for the near future fights like this over awards will continue. Each company has a lot to gain by winning the work and as the defense budget declines there will be less contracts available.

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