News Column

Beechcraft Sues Over Air Force Contract

March 21, 2013

Jerry Siebenmark, The Wichita Eagle

Beechcraft said Thursday it has filed a lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims to contest the Air Force's award of a $427.5 million light air support contract to Sierra Nevada Corp.

The Wichita-based planemaker was passed over on the contract for 20 airplanes for Afghanistan's military forces.

The Air Force awarded the contract earlier to Sierra Nevada and Brazilian planemaker Embraer. The partnership plans to deliver A-29 Super Tucano under the terms of the contract. Beechcraft had proposed its AT-6, an attack version of its T-6 military trainer.

The lawsuit is in addition to a protest Beechcraft filed with the Government Accountability Office earlier this month, protesting the award.

Beechcraft said in a news release Thursday that it expects a GAO ruling on its protest within 90 days.

Beechcraft and Sierra Nevada have been battling for the contract for nearly three years, including legal challenges.

The Air Force canceled the deal in March 2012 after Beechcraft claimed it had wrongly been excluded from the bidding process. An Air Force investigation found that the bidding process had been flawed and that bias existed toward Embraer and Sierra Nevada. That led to the cancellation and a restart of the competition.

Sierra Nevada then contended that the revised bid proposal was tilted in favor of then-Hawker Beechcraft.

The new bidding process proceeded despite Sierra Nevada's claim in court, and the company was selected for the project.

Embraer and Sierra Nevada plan to assemble the aircraft in Jacksonville, Fla.

Source: (c)2013 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) Distributed by MCT Information Services