After losing out twice before, Beechcraft is again protesting the U.S. Air Force’s decision to award a contract for light attack airplanes for the Afghan military to Brazil’s Embraer.
Embraer and its U.S.-based partner, Sierra Nevada, won a $427 million deal on February 27 to supply 20 Super Tucano turboprops to be used in Afghanistan for counterinsurgency missions.
In a statement, Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture said his company is “perplexed” by the Air Force decision and will file a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office based on concerns that there were mistakes in the selection process.
“We simply don’t understand how the Air Force can justify spending over 40 percent more — over $125 million more — for what we consider to be less capable aircraft,” Boisture said.
Embraer won an initial $355 million contract in December 2011, but Hawker Beechcraft challenged the decision after losing the bid. That led to the second selection process. Beechcraft is complaining that the choice of the Super Tucano over its own AT-6 Texan II turboprop will cost 1,400 U.S. jobs. Embraer counters that argument by pointing out that it plans to hire 1,200 workers in Florida to fulfill the Air Force contract.