Embraer has announced that Boeing will supply a new advanced weapons system for the company’s Super Tucano in a move that aims to strengthen Embraer’s bid against competitor Hawker Beechcraft for a highly contentious $355 million Air Force contract.
The system, announced at the Farnborough Airshow this week, features so called laser and GPS-controlled “smart” bombs with extended range. Embraer reps are slated to unveil other details regarding the system’s capabilities soon, but did say the weapons system was contained in the company’s most recent bid submission for the Air Force contract to supply 20 light air support aircraft for delivery to Afghanistan.
Embraer and partner company Sierra Nevada initially won that contract in late 2011, a decision that was thrown out by the Air Force after Hawker Beechcraft – which vied for the contract with its AT-6 – cried foul play. Hawker Beech reps say they were unfairly excluded from the contest and have maintained that selecting the Tucano over the AT-6 would constitute outsourcing and a loss of hundreds of American jobs.
Sierra Nevada, however, contends that the contracted Super Tucanos would be built in Jacksonville and would be made of 85 percent American parts. The company has also maintained that Hawker Beechcraft was unfairly allowed to conduct development and testing on the AT-6 using millions of Air Force funding dollars during the evaluation process.
Both sides continue to duke it out, voicing a growing list of complaints about the design of the contract contest, which could end up being worth as much as $1 billion for the winner.