USAF reverses Tucano purchase

Washington DC
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The US Air Force has been forced to reverse a contract award for the turbo-powered Embraer Super Tucano fighter after conducting an internal review of the selection process.

The reversal comes after USAF leaders pledged to clean up their acquisition process following a series of embarassing procurement blunders for tankers and helicopters.

The move also appears to re-open the light air support [LAS] contract to competition nearly four months after the USAF controversially eliminated the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 from the competition.

David Van Biden, the USAF's top acquisition official, "is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, General Donald Hoffman, chief of air force material command, has launched a "commander directed investigation" into the selection process, Donley said.

The USAF considered two bids for LAS contract to supply 20 turboprop fighters for the Afghan air force to perform counter-insurgency missions.

 

 ©Embraer

Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation offered Super Tucano and a Hawker Beechcraft/Lockheed Martin team proposed the AT-6 Texan II.

In early November, the USAF informed the AT-6 team that their aircraft had been eliminated from the competition, but did not explain the reason. That message, however, became lost within Hawker's internal mail system, and the company failed to respond until 11 days later.

Hawker's protest with the Government Accountability Office was rejected after the agency determined the company failed to submit its case before the contractual deadline.

Hawker filed an appeal in the Court of Federal Claims, and that litigation process is ongoing.