According to Hawker Beechcraft Corporation Chairman Bill Boisture, the Air Force has decided to restore the company’s failed bid to win the potentially lucrative contract to build 20 light air support (LAS) aircraft for delivery to Afghanistan with potential follow-on business worth up to a billion dollars.
The Air Force had previously announced that Sierra Nevada Corp. had won the competition with its entry, an Embraer Super Tucano. But HBC protested the award and claimed it had not had enough time to respond to the award and that it had not received sufficient notice of the award to Sierra Nevada in order to appeal that decision. (To read more about the controversy, see our prior story on the subject.)
In framing the renewed battle, Boisture said that “this LAS competition is about much more than 20 aircraft for Afghanistan or a billion dollar contract,” Boisture said. “It is about the U.S. Air Force’s ability to build relationships with U.S. partner nations around the world for a generation to come. We continue to believe the American manufactured AT-6 is the right aircraft for this critical United States mission.”
Sierra Nevada believes the argument is not so black and white, pointing out that its entry will be assembled in Jacksonville, Florida, where it will create jobs toward that end, and that the airplane is 85 percent by value composed of American made components. It also calls into question the lineage of Hawker Beechcraft, pointing out the Wichita-based manufacturer is largely owned by Canadian interests and does some component manufacturing in Mexico.
The Air Force hasn’t yet released details about how the competition will now proceed, but it is expected that HBC’s entry will be reconsidered alongside Sierra Nevada’s.