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Hawker requests GAO review of Air Force deal

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, at 10:20 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, at 11:05 a.m.

— Hawker Beechcraft said Tuesday that it is requesting the Government Accountability Office review the Air Force’s move to exclude it from the bidding process for a Light Air Support aircraft.

“(Monday) we received notification that the United States Air Force formally denied our second request for a debriefing,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, we still have no information on why the Beechcraft AT-6 was excluded from the Light Air Support competition.”

Sen. Jerry Moran said Tuesday that the Kansas Congressional delegation has insisted that the Air Force meet with Hawker Beechcraft on the reasons it told the company it isn’t eligible to bid on the $1 billion contract. It’s asking the Secretary of the Air Force to have a conversation about those reasons.

“It’s not that Hawker didn’t win the contract,” Moran said. “It was in the late stage of the contract they were told they were an ineligible bidder. That makes no sense, and there certainly needs to be an explanation.”

The delegation is also insisting that the contract not be awarded until the answers are forthcoming, Moran said after a function at Newman University.

“Hawker has great experience in building this aircraft,” he said.

Hawker Beechcraft offered the Air Force its AT-6, based on the company’s T-6 trainer. It was up against Brazil-based Embraer’s Super Tucano military aircraft. The AT-6 turboprop is designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch, and homeland defense and security.

Hawker Beechcraft has said that winning the contract – which was expected to have been awarded at the end of October – would keep its T-6 production line operating beyond 2015.

About 1,400 employees in 20 states – including 800 in Wichita – work on the AT-6 and T-6 programs. The number includes how many people work on the programs at Hawker Beechcraft and its U.S. suppliers and partners.

“We continue to believe that we offered the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft as measured against the Air Force’s Request for Proposal,” Hawker Beechcraft said in its statement.

“HBC’s exclusion from competing for this important contract appears at this point to have been made without basis in process or fact.

“We are very interested in learning more about the decision and look forward to the results of the GAO’s review.”

The initial contract is to supply 20 aircraft to two air bases in Afghanistan and another 15 to use in “building partner capacity,” the Air Force has said.

That number could grow to 55 aircraft worth up to $950 million. Deliveries were to begin in April 2013.

Final deliveries of trainers to the U.S. Navy under the JPATS program are scheduled to take place in 2015.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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