WICHITA, Kan., 9 March 2013. Beechcraft Corp. officials announced plants to protest the U.S. Air Force’s award of a roughly $427.5 million Light Air Support contract to competitor Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC).
"Following our debrief with the Air Force earlier this week, we are very perplexed by this decision," says Bill Boisture, CEO of Beechcraft. "Our belief that we have the best aircraft was confirmed by the Air Force rating our aircraft 'exceptional' and the fact that we are the lower cost solution was confirmed by the USAF's public award announcement."
Last year, an Air Force investigation found evidence of bias toward Brazil-based Embraer and its Nevada-based partner, Sierra Nevada (SNC), which led to the decision to restart the competition. Although SNC later sued the Air Force attempting to enforce the biased decision, U.S. Court of Federal Claims JudgeChristine O.C. Miller wrote in her Nov. 1, 2012, opinion that based on the investigation's evidence of bias "the Air Force's decision to cancel the contract award to SNC and re-solicit proposals was reasonable and rational and should stand."
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Beechcraft officials plan to protest, to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the decision, which leaves an estimated 1,400 jobs in Kansas and other states in jeopardy, according to a company representative.
"We simply don't understand how the Air Force can justify spending over 40 percent more – over $125 million more–for what we consider to be less capable aircraft," Boisture adds. "Given our experience of last year and our continued strong concern that there are again significant errors in the process and evaluation in this competition, we are left with no recourse other than to file a protest with the GAO. The Air Force needs to make the right decision for the nation and our future allies."