Beechcraft is suing the US Air Force in an attempt to prevent the service from continuing work on an effort to supply Afghanistan with a Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft. The service awarded Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and partner Embraer a $427 million contract to supply 20 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft in late February to meet the urgent requirement.
Beechcraft subsequently filed a protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) on 8 March, which led to the award being frozen. But the USAF issued an order on 15 March for SNC and Embraer to resume work on the programme because of the "time-critical" nature of the LAS contract.
"Beechcraft Corporation has filed suit in the Court of Federal Claims to contest the US Air Force's decision to lift the stay of performance on the Light Air Support contract while the Government Accountability Office continues to review Beechcraft's protest of the award to Embraer/Sierra Nevada," the company says. "A GAO ruling on Beechcraft's protest of this procurement is expected within 90 days."
This is the second time Beechcraft has filed a lawsuit to stop work on the LAS contract after its AT-6 aircraft lost out to the Super Tucano. The company protested to the GAO after its candidate was rejected by the USAF during the first iteration of the LAS contest in late 2011 and early 2012. After the GAO rejected Beechcraft's protest, the company subsequently sued the USAF, ultimately forcing the service to restart the programme.
Beechcraft has in recent weeks been promoting its rejected AT-6 as an aircraft designed and built inside in the USA. However, the aircraft is a derivative of the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainer.