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US Air Force Restarts Afghanistan Aircraft Competition

The U.S. Air Force will restart its
stalled $1 billion competition to buy light attack aircraft for
the Afghanistan military, it said today.

The military will issue a draft request for proposals April
17 and a final version April 30, the service said in an e-mailed
statement. A new award is scheduled for early 2013.

The Air Force on Feb. 28 canceled a disputed $1 billion
contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. after determining the
documentation used to make the award was flawed.

Sierra Nevada and its Brazilian subcontractor, Embraer SA (EMBR3),
will again compete against Hawker Beechcraft Corp. Hawker, a
closely held company that is 49 percent-owned by Goldman Sachs
Group Inc. (GS)
, had protested the Defense Department’s December
decision, which gave Sierra the order to provide the aircraft
for the Afghan military.

Hawker sued the military in the U.S. Court of Federal
Claims in Washington, claiming it was unfairly eliminated from
the competition. The decision was a blow to the Wichita, Kansas-
based company, which has been struggling with slower defense
spending.

Spokesmen for Hawker, Sparks, Nevada-based Sierra and
Embraer didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and e-mails.

Embraer hoped to use the contract to establish a
relationship with the Pentagon, Chief Executive Officer
Frederico Curado told reporters on April 10 at the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce in Washington.

“This tends to give us opportunities for future
transactions,” Curado said. He said the contract would give the
company credibility abroad as well.

“We just have to hope that when this process is
reconsidered or reopened that there are no changes to the
original specs,” he said. “If there are no changes, I think
the same reasons that made us win the first time will make us
win the second time.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
Tony Capaccio in Washington at
acapaccio@bloomberg.net;
Danielle Ivory in Washington at
divory@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Stephanie Stoughton at
sstoughton@bloomberg.net

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Article source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-13/air-force-restarts-stalled-afghanistan-aircraft-program.html

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