February 28, 2012

Air Force

The Air Force is setting aside a light air support contract awarded to Sierra Nevada Corp., saying that its acquisition executive is “not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision.”

The Air Force advised the Department of Justice of the action, which is effective March 2.

“While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action,” Michael Donley, secretary of the Air Force, said in a statement.

General Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, has initiated an investigation into the matter, the Air Force said this morning.

The Air Force declines further comment beyond its statement because the acquisition is in litigation.

Hawker Beechcraft filed suit in January after it was eliminated from the competition, questioning the selection process and seeking to determine whether the bidding process was conducted legally. The Air Force had issued a temporary stop work order on the contract as a result.

Sierra Nevada is Brazil-based Embraer’s U.S. partner on the contract. The company offered the Air Force Embraer’s Super Tucano. Hawker Beechcraft offered its Wichita-built AT-6 turboprop, based on its T-6 trainer, in the bidding.

The Air Force eliminated Hawker Beechcraft from the competition in November, saying it had not adequately corrected deficiencies in its proposal. Hawker Beechcraft officials have said that the specifications kept changing during the selection process.

The Air Force awarded the contract to Sierra Nevada in December.

The company and Sen. Mike Pompeo held a joint news conference in January saying they want the Air Force to explain why the company was excluded from the contract, which is expected to be worth up to nearly $1 billion with follow-on contracts.

The light air support aircraft will be used in Afghanistan to conduce advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations.

First shipments were to begin in April 2013, but the Air Force has said it now expects delays because of the lawsuit.

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