In a closely watched rematch, Embraer on Wednesday won a U.S. Air Force contract to supply 20 of its A-29 Super Tucano light attack airplanes for counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan. The Brazilian company beat out Beechcraft — again — for the $428 million deal after the Air Force agreed to review the original contract awarded last year.
Embraer and its partner, U.S.-based Sierra Nevada, will deliver the single-engine Super Tucanos for sorties by Afghan military pilots, who will use the agile attack airplanes to hunt insurgents in the country’s rugged and desolate terrain.
Beechcraft had proposed its AT-6B Texan II for the Light Air Support contract but was derailed in the original bidding process by what some within the company said amounted to a paperwork error. This time, the military’s decision appears final.
“Although the U.S. Air Force did not select the AT-6 Light Attack Aircraft for the Light Air Support program, Beechcraft is committed to advancing the aircraft's capabilities and continues to pursue additional close air support opportunities,” the company said in a statement. “We are disappointed that our proposal was not chosen. We will meet with the USAF for a full debrief of the award and determine our next steps forward at that time.”
Brazilian officials seemed to hint that the contract award was good news for Boeing, which is currently bidding to overhaul Brazil’s Air Force with dozens of fighters worth at least $4 billion in a tight competition against France’s Dassault and Sweden’s Saab.
"This is obviously a very good development for Boeing,” a senior Brazilian official was quoted as telling Reuters. “It's the best thing that's happened to them in months.”