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Fri, Apr 05, 2013

Congressman Wants Guarantee That Beechcraft Is Competitive For USAF Contracts

Kansas Representative Pompeo Looks To Air Force For Answers As Legal Dispute Over LAS Continues To Simmer

Kansas Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo is asking the U.S. Air Force for assurances that Beechcraft's loss of the initial LAS contract will not shut the company out of future bidding on the airplane.

While the initial contract worth $427 million went to rival Embraer and its U.S. partner Sierra Nevada Corp., follow-on contracts for the Light Air Support aircraft could amount to as much as $1 billion, and Pompeo said that he wants to be sure the Wichita company has a chance to compete for the business.
The Wichita Eagle reports that the USAF told the Congressman that it was not convinced that Beechcraft could get the AT-6 certified in a timeframe that would allow it to deliver the airplanes to Afghanistan as quickly as they were needed, even though Beechcraft came in with a lower bid on the airplanes. Pompeo said he was "puzzled" that the Air Force did not think Beechcraft could deliver the airplanes on schedule.

But now, he says he wants to be sure that, as contract for more LAS airplanes come up for bids, Beechcraft will have a fair shot at getting that business. "We want to make sure this isn't a pattern," he told the paper.

Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp. plan to build the A-29 Super Tucanos in Jacksonville, FL. But Pompeo said he is skeptical that they can roll completed airplanes off a still-to-be-build assembly line within the timeframe specified by the contract. He said that the Super Tucanos will likely be assembled in Brazil to a point where the can be flown to Florida for completion in Jacksonville.

The assembly hangar at Jacksonville International Airport was officially opened last week by a delegation that included Florida Governor Rick Scott, but work on A-29s is not expected to begin in the hangar until next year.

(AT-6 image (top) provided by Beechcraft. Super Tucano image (bottom) provided by Embraer)

FMI: http://pompeo.house.gov, www.embraer.com, www.beechcraft.com

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