AT-29 Super Tucano aircraft

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has filed a lawsuit against the US Air Force (USAF) for its new approach over the $355m Light Support Aircraft (LAS) contract, which was cancelled in February 2012, following concerns over the procurement process.

SNC’s vice president Taco Gilbert said SNC had filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims in a bid to reinstate the original contract, citing the air force’s corrective action as "excessive."

According to Gilbert, the USAF did not provide any justification for the contract termination, and did not explain the new approach to the contract, despite repeated written and verbal attempts by the company.

"In order to maintain a fair and open competition, we think that it is important to take this step," said Gilbert.

The USAF had scrapped the contract and decided to launch a fresh competition for the contract award with new rules, after discovering that its own documentation, submitted for the contract award was insufficient.

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SNC and Embraer had originally secured the LAS contract for supply of 20 AT-29 Super Tucano aircraft to the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) by beating Hawker Beechcraft in December 2011.

The contract also involved the delivery of ground training devices and support services to AAF by the end of April 2014.

However, the service had issued a temporary stop-work order on the contract in January 2012 following a lawsuit by the losing bidder, Hawker, in the US Court of Federal Claims.

Gilbert however stressed that the team will continue to compete for the contract, which is potentially worth up to $1bn, despite concerns over how the new competition was structured.

Meanwhile, the USAF has released final, revamped rules for the new competition in May 2012, requesting bidders to submit cost and technical data for the new bids by 18th June, and aims to award the contract in early 2013.

Image: AT-29 Super Tucano aircraft is primarily used by the Brazilian Air Force. Photo: courtesy of Giulliano B. Frassetto/Brazilian Air Force.