Embraer remains confident its EMB-314/A-29 Super Tucano will be speedily reselected for the US Air Force's Light Air Support (LAS) programme, so long as requirements remain unchanged.

The choice of the Brazilian-built trainer/light attack aircraft - which Embraer had bid alongside US partner Sierra Nevada - was overturned earlier this year after rival Hawker Beechcraft filed a lawsuit, following the rejection of the Wichita-based airframer's AT-6.

"If they don't change the requirements, we are 100% sure they will decide again for our aircraft," says Luiz Carlos Aguiar, the head of Embraer's defence business. "It is the only solution for this mission. If they need additional information, we will provide that." He says Embraer expects to receive word from the USAF "within weeks".

The USAF planned to buy 20 Super Tucanos as an urgent operational requirement to provide the Afghan air force with a counter-insurgency aircraft fleet, and the decision to overturn the selection was received with fury in Brazil. "It was a great surprise for us. We did not expect the reversal," says Aguiar.

"The US needs something off the shelf, and we have the solution," he says. "The difference between the two programmes is quite deep." Embraer and Sierra Nevada had committed to creating 1,200 jobs in the US supply chain as a result of the contract, he adds.

Aguiar says that any change to the terms of the competition could alter things. "If they do that, well, we would have to wait and see, but I cannot understand why they would do that," he says.

He says the upheaval has not changed Embraer's commitment to establishing a foothold in the "most important defence market in the world", which the manufacturer believes would be a platform for establishing further deals with NATO allies. The LAS contest was one of the defence unit's first breakthroughs in a country where Embraer has enjoyed considerable success with its regional and business jet products.

Source: Flight International