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Hawker Beechcraft learned during the initial status conference at the Court of Federal Claims that the U.S. Air Force awarded the Light Air Support contract to the Sierra Nevada Corporation and its Brazilian manufacturer, Embraer.
During the hearing, the government revealed that the unannounced award apparently was made on December 22, 2011, shortly after the Government Accountability Office declined to review Hawker Beechcraft’s protest against its exclusion from the LAS competition. Per federal regulations, federal agencies are generally required to make a public award announcement by 5:00 P.M. ET on the day of the award.
“This is yet another example of the Air Force’s lack of transparency throughout this competition,” said Bill Boisture, Hawker Beechcraft chairman and CEO. ”With this development, it now seems even clearer that the Air Force intended to award the contract to Embraer from early in this process.”
During the hearing on December 28, Hawker Beechcraft requested that the court grant a temporary restraining order to preclude the Air Force from moving forward in the contract process. The court agreed to establish an accelerated schedule for briefings on the temporary restraining order and the legal merits of the case. A ruling on Hawker Beechcraft’s request for a temporary restraining order is expected as early as January 11.
The company still has no concrete reasons for the exclusion of the Beechcraft AT-6, having been denied explanation by the U.S. Air Force on two occasions. The LAS contract, on track to benefit a non-U.S. company, is valued at nearly $1 billion of U.S. taxpayer money.
The AT-6 is a world-class, light attack aircraft that has been evaluated and proven capable through a multi-year, Congressionally-funded program led by the Air National Guard. Hawker Beechcraft and its industrial partners worked closely with the Air Force for two years to develop parameters for the LAS competition and invested more than $100 million preparing to meet the Air Force’s specific requirements for a light attack aircraft. The benefits of the AT-6 include the following: