Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) have defended the selection of the A-29 Super Tucano for a US Air Force contract to supply light attack aircraft to Afghanistan.

"In evaluating the competitors, the US Air Force looked at three criteria, in priority order: mission capability, past performance and pricing in order to determine overall best value," the two companies said in a joint statement. "The A-29 received an exceptional rating on technical capability and low-risk in all other categories."

The statement follows a protest to the US General Accounting Office filed by Beechcraft, which had proposed the AT-6 Texan II for the $427 million requirement for 20 aircraft. Beechcraft claims there were errors in the acquisition process, although it has yet to provide details.

This is the second time the Super Tucano has won the competition. After it won in 2012, however, the deal was annulled after the USAF discovered irregularities in the acquisition process.

The Embraer/Sierra Nevada statement had this to say about the competition: "In announcing the award, the air force stated 'this award is the result of a full and open competition' and Lt Gen CR Davis, military deputy for acquisition in Air Force headquarters, said: 'I am confident that the source selection process was disciplined and meticulous'.

"Even Beechcraft's CEO commented on the care and professionalism of the USAF's selection process. In fact, this was a completely new evaluation process, conducted by a new team and overseen by a three-star general."

Embraer and its partner say the deal will support over 1,400 jobs in the USA, with the aircraft to be produced in Jacksonville, Florida.

"The A-29 Super Tucano is the right choice for the mission, the warfighter, the US taxpayer, the American workers and our partner nations," add Embraer and SNC. "Given the strength of our proposal and the thoroughness of the US Air Force's evaluation process, it is unfortunate that Beechcraft is now protesting the light air support [LAS] contract award once again."

The statement concluded by saying that SNC and Embraer are "moving forward and preparing to begin operations in Jacksonville".

Source: Flight International