Home > posts > USAF to Overrule and Investigate Questionable Contract Award to Brazil’s Embraer Over American Hawker Beechcraft
February 29th, 2012 3:57 pm
USAF to Overrule and Investigate Questionable Contract Award to Brazil’s Embraer Over American Hawker Beechcraft
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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.”

That was U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley yesterday, regarding the USAF decision to vacate a $353 million attack aircraft contract awarded late last year to Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, and to investigate the process by which the contract was awarded.

We at CFIF monitored and criticized that process and voiced our concerns directly to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. 

By way of background, two defense companies competed for the contract to provide military aircraft to Afghanistan:  Hawker Beechcraft of Wichita, Kansas, and Brazil’s Embraer.  Disturbingly, Embraer receives subsidies from the Brazilian government, which has publicly opposed the War on Terror and American efforts against Iran and Venezuela, but nevertheless shamelessly sought to profit from U.S. foreign policy.  Additionally, a provision within the potential Embraer contract known as the “Golden Share” clause would allow the Brazilian government to shut down the operation at any time during the production or maintenance of the aircraft.  Alarmingly, the United States would possess no recourse in the matter. 

Hawker Beechcraft would sustain an estimated 1,400 domestic jobs, whereas Brazil’s Embraer would offer only 50 final domestic assembly positions.  Moreover, the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 is based upon an aircraft already in wide use by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) and other American allies.  Consequently, that familiarity and logistical infrastructure advantage would allow for substantial cost savings over the new aircraft’s life cycle.  This is particularly important at a time when the Defense Department seeks cost control measures.

Although this situation remains unresolved, the USAF decision to overrule and investigate the dubious award to Embraer is a very encouraging step in the right direction.

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