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Embraer Launches PR Assault For Attack Plane

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Embraer launched a public relations assault at AirVenture Oshkosh to shore up its bid to supply the Air Force with light, fast and impressively destructive aircraft for its Light Air Support competition. Embraer and its U.S. partner Sierra Nevada Corp. had its top executives at a news conference earlier in the week to press its case for the A-29 Super Tucano in a second attempt to secure the $1 billion deal. There was also a Super Tucano on display and fully staffed at the Embraer booth all week. "The Super Tucano has been proven in combat," said Taco Gilbert, CEO of Sierra Nevada. The news conference also announced that Embraer and Sierra Nevada had reached a deal with Boeing to allow the aircraft to be equipped with GPS-guided JDAM missiles that are standard issue for the fourth-generation tactical aircraft that the Super Tucano emulates.

The Super Tucano won the initial competition against Hawker Beechcraft's AT6-B, but the Air Force withdrew the award after Hawker Beech launched a court challenge and the Air Force determined there were flaws in the procurement process. A fresh competition launched in June and there will be an answer in January. Meanwhile, Hawker Beech briefly displayed a T-6 Texan II at its booth. The AT6-B is based on the Texan II but they are not the same aircraft. For most of the show, the trainer was on display at Phillips 66 Plaza, but it was fenced off. The trainer flew a demonstration routine on Saturday, but the description of the routine did not refer to the LAS competition.

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