LAS Competition: New Legal Move as New RFP Expected

 - April 20, 2012, 2:00 PM
Sierra Nevada teamed with Embraer to offer the Super Tucano for the U.S. Air Force’s aborted LAS acquisition. (Photo: Embraer)

The saga of the U.S. Air Force Light Air Support (LAS) competition took another turn this week when Sierra Nevada petitioned the U.S. Federal Court of Claims for a judicial review of the service’s investigation into the LAS source selection process. SNC vice president Taco Gilbert said that the Court is the best place to resolve the disputed selection quickly. Four days earlier, the Air Force said it would issue a new request for proposals (RFP) by the end of this month.

In early March, the service cancelled a $355 million contract with Sierra Nevada for the Embraer Super Tucano, two months after competing bidder Hawker Beechcraft started legal action in the same Federal Court with a claim that the evaluation process was flawed. Last year the Air Force found “multiple deficiencies and significant weaknesses” in Hawker Beechcraft’s bid of the AT-6. But the service subsequently admitted that the documentation supporting the award was deficient, and launched its investigation. Sierra Nevada’s Gilbert urged the Air Force not to rewrite the RFP “to a lower set of standards.”

The cancelled contract was for 20 aircraft to be supplied to the Afghan National Army Air Corps, plus training devices and contractor support. Further demand for the LAS aircraft is not clear, although the original RFP referred to “numerous partner countries” and noted that up to 15 more aircraft might be acquired for U.S.-based training of pilots.