Citing concerns with the procurement process, the U.S. Air Force has canceled Sierra Nevada Corp.’s (SNC) $355 million contract to supply 20 Embraer AT-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft for operation by the Afghan air force.
The decision to set aside the contract is a victory for Hawker Beechcraft (HBC), which took the Air Force to court after its offer of the AT-6 aircraft was disqualified, leaving SNC as the only bidder for the Light Air Support (LAS) program.
“While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action,” says Air Force Secretary Michael Donley in a statement. Citing the ongoing litigation, he adds, “I can only say Air Force Senior Acquisition Executive David Van Buren is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision.”
Gen. Donald J. Hoffman at Air Force Materiel Command has initiated an investigation into the procurement, with the first report due March 12. “In the meantime, [Van Buren] will take specific near-term action to ensure these issues aren’t occurring in current, ongoing source selections,” says Donley.
Wichita-based HBC protested to the Government Accountability Office after being disqualified from the LAS competition in November, but its case was rejected in late December, clearing the way for award of the LAS contract to SNC.
HBC filed suit against the Air Force in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Dec. 27, forcing the service to issue a stop-work order to SNC and Embraer on Jan. 4. The case was due to be heard on March 6, but both sides have received extensions.
By Graham Warwick
February 28, 2012