Hawker Beechcraft Out Of Running For Light Attack Plane

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The federal government has reportedly said the case is closed on Hawker Beechcraft's bid to sell a light attack version of its Texan II trainer to the Air Force. Realistically, that leaves only Brazil's Embraer Super Tucano in the running for the potential $1 billion deal. Hawker Beech was told last week that its version of the Pilatus PC-9 trainer was no longer a contender. The news shocked and puzzled the Wichita-based company and it asked for a review of the decision by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to KAKE TV the government has refused to review the decision made by the Air Force to exclude the aircraft from the competition. Hawker Beechcraft has sold hundreds of the aircraft as primary trainers to air forces all over the world and the company said in a statement last week that it thought it put in a good bid for the gunned-up version of the aircraft. "HBC's exclusion from competing for this important contract appears at this point to have been made without basis in process or fact," the company said in a statement. That doesn't necessarily mean Embraer wins, though.

The whole concept of using light single-engine aircraft in a combat role has had a rough ride in Congress. As we reported in October, Senate and House committees rejected a real-world test of the concept in Afghanistan. If the program goes ahead, Embraer will do the final assembly of Super Tucanos at a rebuilt hangar in Jacksonville and employ about 50 people.