Hawker Beechcraft

Did the U.S. government unfairly exclude Hawker Beechcraft from bidding to supply military aircraft for Afghanistan?

  • Published

Claim:   The U.S. government unfairly excluded Hawker Beechcraft from bidding to supply military aircraft for Afghanistan.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2011]

“Any president whose actions so consistently refute his own words must have deep contempt for the intelligence of the American public.”

The obama administration told U.S. owned Hawker Beechcraft earlier this week they are being excluded from bidding on the US Air Force contract for a light attack aircraft. That leaves Brazilian owned Embraer as the likely recipient of the lucrative deal. I found this one hard to believe so I did a little research. It was tough because this was completely ignored by the main stream media.

This is a double slap in the face of the United States. At a time when jobs, the economy, and security are the most critical priorities for our country, the Obama administration decides to send a defense contract to a foreign owned company.

This has to be the stupidest thing this administration has done to date. This is not just a dumb decision, it is a perfect example of why this president is such a poor leader. He talks about wanting jobs. He says we need to force companies to repatriate billions of dollars that Americans keep overseas. He wants to raise taxes so he can spend billions on stimulus that does nothing to stimulate anything.

And when it’s time to act, he sends our tax dollars overseas at the expense of American jobs and income for an American company. This is nothing more than a Chicago-style political pay back; but this time it is at the expense of our national security.

How much more damage will obama be allowed to do in the next 14 months? One of the lead stories in the media this week blasted congress for insider trading. If this contract goes to Embraer it will be a huge pay off to another George Soros company.

When will the 4th estate do it’s constitutionally protected job and expose the real obama to the American people?


Origins:   On 30 December 2011, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it had awarded a $355 million contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) for 20 light air-support/single-engine turboprop aircraft that will serve as both trainers and ground-attack planes for Afghanistan’s air force. Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft (HBDC) had hoped that their AT-6 aircraft, an armed version of their T-6 trainer which is currently used by the U.S. military, would be chosen for the contract, but the U.S. Air Force (USAF) excluded the AT-6 from the running, leaving the A-29 Super Tucano built by Sierra Nevada Corp. in partnership with Brazil-based Embraer as the lone eligible supplier.

Hawker Beechcraft Corp. has since filed suit against the U.S. government over the exclusion, maintaining that the Air Force had not provided them with sufficient detail about the reasons behind their exclusion and that Embraer had been unfairly favored:

The suit alleges the exclusion was “arbitrary and capricious” and seeks to prevent the government from awarding a contract until Beechcraft can make its case in court.

“This is yet another example of the Air Force’s lack of transparency throughout this competition,” said Bill Boisture, Hawker Beechcraft chairman and CEO, in a statement. “With this development, it now seems even clearer that the Air Force intended to award the contract to Embraer from early in this process.”

“We think we were wrongfully excluded from the competition,” Boisture said. “We don’t understand the basis for the exclusion, and frankly, we think we’ve got the best airplane. “So we’re going to take every avenue available to us to make sure our product is fully evaluated and recognized for what it is. There are several issues here that just, frankly, don’t make sense.”

The Air Force maintains that the process was fair, that Hawker Beechcraft was excluded because “multiple deficiencies and significant weaknesses found in HBDC’s proposal make it technically unacceptable and results in unacceptable mission capability risk,” and that the company failed to respond to its notice of exclusion in time to request a debriefing or file a protest:

Lt. Col. Wesley Miller, an Air Force spokesman, said the contest “was conducted in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations” and that the evaluation of the aircraft “was fair, open and transparent.”

In dismissing Hawker Beechcraft Corp from the competition, the Air Force found Hawker Beechcraft’s bid “technically unacceptable,” one that would result in an “unacceptable mission capability risk.”

The Air Force said the company missed a three-day deadline to file a request for a debriefing and a 10-day deadline to file a protest.

It is not possible at this point to definitively determine why the USAF excluded Hawker Beechcraft from the Light Aircraft Support (LAS) bidding, as ongoing litigation prevents the Air Force from releasing information regarding the competition, but according to industry observers the primary issue behind Hawker Beechcraft’s disqualification was that the LAS contract called for a non-developmental, production-ready aircraft, and Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6 was still a developmental aircraft.

According to SNC’s own statement on the issue:

In its Request for Proposal, the Air Force specifically sought a non-developmental, in-production aircraft so that warfighters in-theater could have an advanced solution quickly and so that American taxpayers would not have to pay development costs. The plane proposed by SNC’s competitor is a developmental aircraft that is not in production and has never been used for light air support or any other purpose.

The AT-6 is a developmental aircraft. With only two prototypes in existence, it has never been in production. In contrast, the aircraft selected by the Air Force and to be provided by SNC, Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano, is a light air support aircraft that is currently in use with six air forces around the world.

Unlike the AT-6, the A-29 Super Tucano has more than seven years of real-world combat and training experience behind it. This means that its operational costs are known and that all costly development issues related to weapons load, maneuverability and operations have already been worked out.

Only the A-29 Super Tucano has actually flown in combat. More significantly, only the A-29 was built from the ground up to perform counterinsurgency and light air support operations. The A-29 is larger in size allowing it to make full use of the 1,600-hp engine without power limitations due to torque. It sits higher off the ground and has a broader stance, increasing stability on unprepared airfields. The A-29’s longer tail section increases longitudinal stability and provides exceptional accuracy for the delivery of weapons.

Only the A-29 delivery system is specifically designed with the five NATO hard points for external stores, translating into maximum operational flexibility for the war fighters in the theater. The AT-6 carries no munitions in its native configuration. This is a critical difference. The A-29 also is munitions-certified with over 130 operational external load configurations. The AT-6 is not yet munitions-certified.

In February 2012, the Air Force announced it was canceling the contract with Sierra Nevada Corp. pending an investigation of the award:

General Donald Hoffman, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, has started an investigation, Jennifer Cassidy, an Air Force Spokeswoman, said. She said she didn’t know whether the contract would be re-opened for competition and didn’t elaborate on the reason for the cancellation.

“While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action,” Michael B. Donley, the Air Force secretary, said in a statement. “Since the acquisition is still in litigation, I can only say that the Air Force Senior Acquisition Executive, David Van Buren, is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision.”

The awarding of the Air Force contract to a partner of Brazil-based Embraer did not necessarily mean that all the jobs connected with the contract would be sent overseas, as Embraer said that its partner, Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp., would build the turboprops in Jacksonville, Florida, if it won the contract:

The A-29 Super Tucano will be built in America. Embraer will make the plane at a new production facility in Jacksonville, Fla. Over 88 percent of the dollar value of the A-29 Super Tucano comes from components supplied by U.S. companies or countries that qualify under the Buy America Act. No new jobs are being created in Brazil as a result of this contract.

Despite the claim made in the example text reproduced above that the subject of Hawker Beechcraft’s exclusion was “completely ignored by the mainstream media,” it has in fact received widespread news coverage in a variety of media sources, including at least five of the nine highest-circulation newspapers in the U.S. (The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Post, and the Chicago Tribune).

Also, we found no evidence to support the claim that “If this contract goes to Embraer it will be a huge pay off to another George Soros company,” as we turned up no information indicating that George Soros holds an ownership stake in Embraer. The closest connection we found between George Soros and Embraer seems to be that the former is one of the leading shareholders in China’s Hainan Airlines Group (HNA), and HNA bought ERJ-145 jets from Harbin Embraer, a partnership between Embraer and the Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation of Harbin, China. However, that connection makes Soros a customer of Embraer, not an owner, and therefore does not put him in a position to profit from the awarding of an Air Force contact to Embraer.

Last updated:   5 March 2012


    Hodge, Nathan.   “Air Force Awards Afghan Plane Contract.”

    The Wall Street Journal.   30 December 2011.

    Hodge, Nathan.   “Hawker Beechcraft Sues Over Air Force Bidding.”

    The Wall Street Journal.   28 December 2011.

    Hodge, Nathan.   “Embraer Hits Defense Barrier.”

    The Wall Street Journal.   11 January 2012.

    Ivory, Danielle.   “Air Force Cancels Contract to Sierra After Hawker Protest.”

    San Francisco Chronicle.   1 March 2012.

    McMillin, Molly.   “Hawker Requests GAO Review of Air Force Deal.”

    The Wichita Eagle.   22 November 2011.

    McMillin, Molly.   “Hawker Beechcraft Files Suit Over Air Force Contract.”

    The Wichita Eagle.   28 December 2011.

    Associated Press.   “Hawker Beechcraft Sues Over Air Force Contract.”

    28 December 2011.

    Associated Press.   “Air Force Temporarily Halts Work After Hawker Beechcraft Lawsuit.”

    The Washington Post.   5 January 2012.