Exploring Options To Mitigate Delays Meeting April 2013
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) said Wednesday that it is
exploring ways to mitigate delays in meeting the April 2013
delivery schedule for the first aircraft called for under United
States Air Force Light Air Support (LAS) contract. SNC was awarded
that contract in late December, but due to a lawsuit filed by
Hawker Beechcraft, which was disqualified by the Pentagon from
bidding for the contract, has been prevented from initiating
work. In a briefing paper issued in late January, the Air Force
acknowledged that it expected delivery of the aircraft to be
delayed due to the current litigation.
The aircraft to be provided is the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano. It
will be used in Afghanistan to conduct advanced flight training,
aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations. It is
integral to U.S. plans to provide the Afghanistan government with
an indigenous advanced training and combat capable aircraft to
facilitate that country's internal security capability.
In an article published Jan. 15, Brig. Gen. Tim Ray, the NATO
Air Training Command-Afghanistan commander, called the A-29 Super
Tucano "tailor made" for the Afghan's counterinsurgency mission.
"The Tucano is the most kinetic, most offensive aircraft they'll
have, and I'm sure a big morale boost to the troops on the ground
when they see it overhead. It's the right kind of platform for the
terrain, the fight and most importantly, it's easy to sustain," he
"We recognize the importance of this aircraft to successfully
ending the U.S. mission in Afghanistan," said Taco Gilbert, Ret.
USAF Brigadier General, and Vice President of ISR Business
Development at SNC. "Given the stakes and given recent reports of a
potentially accelerated end to U.S. combat operations there, we are
looking at all possible options for speeding up our production and
delivery timeline. However, until the stop work order is lifted, we
cannot make any movement in this regard."
The U.S. Air Force issued a temporary stop work order January 4
in response to a lawsuit filed by Hawker Beechcraft in the U.S.
Court of Federal Claims. That suit challenges Hawker's elimination
from the LAS competition. The Air Force notified Hawker Beechcraft
in November that its proposal was not in the competitive range and
that it had been disqualified from the competition. The Air Force
based its determination on the finding that "multiple deficiencies
and significant weaknesses found in [Hawker Beechcraft's] proposal
make it technically unacceptable and results in unacceptable
mission capability risk."
The A-29 Super Tucano is mission ready and combat proven. It is
currently in use with six air forces around the world, performing
counterinsurgency and close air support operations. The LAS
aircraft will be made in America by American workers. Embraer is
investing millions of dollars in the development of a new military
aircraft production facility in Jacksonville, FL, creating at least
50 new high tech jobs in the process. More than 88 percent of the
dollar value of the A-29 Super Tucano comes from components
supplied by American companies or countries that qualify under the
Buy America Act. In all, more than 70 U.S. companies will supply
parts or services related to this contract, supporting another
1,200+ jobs across the country.
"SNC, Embraer, and all of our team members are committed to the
LAS mission and to bringing a successful close to U.S. operations
in Afghanistan," Gilbert said. "However, this will only happen if
we can equip the Afghanis with the tools and training they need to
develop their own counterinsurgency capability. We are looking at
how we can speed up our process; we hope that there will be a swift
resolution to the litigation and an end to unnecessary delays of
this critical program."