Thursday, Beechcraft announced that it has filed suit in Federal Claims Court “to contest the U.S. Air Force’s decision” to move forward with a $427 million contract awarded to Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). The Air Force has twice selected the Embraer/SNC Super Tucano over Beechcraft Corporation’s AT-6 for its Light Air Support program, but Beechcraft’s maneuverings have so far blocked performance of the contract. Beechcraft’s new lawsuit aims to halt execution of the contract “while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) continues to review Beechcraft’s protest.”
To overcome Beechcraft’s second appeal, the Pentagon applied a rarely used power to override a congressional review of Beechcraft’s second appeal, citing “unusual and compelling circumstances.” That effectively swept aside barriers to performing the contract, until Beechcraft’s latest lawsuit. The contract would supply 20 aircraft to the Afghanistan Air Force. Beechcraft maintains that the Super Tucano will cost significantly more than the AT-6. Embraer’s Super Tucano would be produced with SNC as its primary contractor. The project is expected to create up to 1,400 new jobs mostly at a facility in Jacksonville, Fla., where Embraer has signed a 10-year lease on a 40,000-square-foot building. Lawsuit aside, the GAO is expected to comment on the Beechcraft protest within 90 days.