Earlier this year, the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano defeated the Beechcraft AT-6 to win the US Air Force's Light Air Support (LAS) contract for the second time running. The deal calls for prime contractor Sierra Nevada (SNC) and partner Embraer to supply 20 Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft and associated support equipment for $427 million to equip Afghanistan's fledgling air force with a fixed-wing strike capability. If all options were to be exercised, the total value of the contract would rise to $950 million.
At present, the LAS contact remains mired in protest at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). Losing bidder Beechcraft is once again contesting the award, repeating a series of events that derailed a previous 2011 iteration of the LAS tender.
This time around, the USAF has overridden an automatic stop-work order and is proceeding with the LAS effort despite the protest. "The override to the stay of performance was issued to honour a critical and time-sensitive US commitment to provide air support capability to the Afghanistan air force," the USAF says.