In a surprise move, the U.S. Air Force revealed today that it will take “corrective action” on the light air support (LAS) aircraft contract. The Air Force had earlier announced the contract would be awarded to Sierra Nevada, a U.S. company that partnered with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to offer the E-314 Super Tucano.
Hawker Beechcraft, which had promoted its own AT-6 in the bidding, formally protested the Air Force decision. The Air Force subsequently issued a temporary stop-work order pending a decision by a Federal Claims Court as to whether the bidding process had been legally flawed.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), whose district includes Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft, applauded this most recent Air Force decision, saying, “Today, we celebrate this victory and the restoration of a long-awaited fair and open competition.”
Expressing disappointment in the decision, Taco Gilbert, retired Air Force general and vice president of ISR business development at Sierra Nevada, said in a statement, “Today’s announcement only further delays the effort to get critical capabilities into the hands of our men and women in uniform and our coalition partners in-theatre. It also stymies efforts to create jobs and economic development at a time when our economy needs the boost.”
“We commend the Air Force for this decision and we believe strongly it is the right thing for the Air Force, the taxpayers and the people of Hawker Beechcraft,” said Bill Boisture, chairman of Hawker Beechcraft Corp. “We look forward to competing for this contract as this important initiative moves forward.”