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Air Force Picks Embraer's Super Tucano (Again)

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Embraer's A-29 Super Tucano turboprop single has been selected by the U.S. Air Force for its Light Air Support program, Embraer announced Wednesday, reinforcing the selection that had been made once already, prior to objections from Hawker Beechcraft, the predecessor of the new Beechcraft Corporation. Hawker Beech had proposed its AT-6B single-engine turboprop for the contract, but lost out to Embraer in an earlier decision. Following that decision, Hawker put forth legal objections and a court forced the military to revisit its selection. Now, the military has, again, chosen Embraer's product, delivering the company a $427 million contract for 20 Light Air Support aircraft, and support equipment, to be supplied in partnership with Sierra Nevada Corporation, the prime contractor. Beechcraft issued a brief statement in reaction to the announcement. "Although the U.S. Air Force did not select the AT-6 Light Attack Aircraft for the Light Air Support program, Beechcraft is committed to advancing the aircraft's capabilities and continues to pursue additional close air support opportunities," the statement read. "We are disappointed that our proposal was not chosen. We will meet with the USAF for a full debrief of the award and determine our next steps forward at that time."

Serving the Light Air Support program, the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft will be used for pilot training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support operations. Embraer says it has already delivered more than 170 of the aircraft, which serve in nine air forces worldwide. The design has logged "more than 180,000 flight hours and 28,000 combat hours" in use and "has employed state-of-the-art munitions on real operational missions." It carries electro-optic, infrared and laser systems, and secure radio systems with data links, according to the company. Aircraft selected for the Light Air Support program will be built in Jacksonville, Fla. 

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