Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture vowed the company will fight vigorously to overturn an Air Force decision to exclude its AT-6B from the bidding for a light air support platform. "We won't go away quietly," Boisture said in an interview. In a podcast interview with AVweb he said his company has sold hundreds of aircraft to the Department of Defense and it has never handled a bid in the way the LAS competition was dealt with. He said the DOD constantly changed bid criteria and processes without properly notifying Hawker Beechcraft and finally excluded the AT-6B from the competition days before awarding the deal to Embraer and its Super Tucano. Hawker Beechcraft has filed suit in Federal Claims Court alleging the bid was mishandled by the DOD.
Boisture said the case will be heard by the end of March. In the meantime, the Air Force has halted work on the LAS project. Air Force officials say they're confident the bid was handled appropriately and that the Super Tucano is a superior aircraft. It appears the issue could become a political football in Washington as lawmakers prepare to head back to the capital after a shortened Christmas break. Boisture said Hawker Beechcraft is gathering political support not only from the Kansas delegation but from politicians in other areas concerned about the jobs that could be threatened by Hawker Beechcraft's loss of the contract.