UPDATE: Tuesday,February 28, 2012
Hawker Beechcraft could be back in the running for the U.S. Air Force’s Light Air Support contract.
In an email statement, the Air Force on Tuesday said it will “set aside” the initial award — which went to Sierra Nevada Corp. and its partner, Embraer — effective March 2.
“While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action,” Michael Donley, secretary of the Air Force, said in the 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.”
In addition, Gen. Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Material Command, has initiated an investigation into the contract award.
Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy said the department would not comment further at this time.
Hawker Beechcraft Corp. has been seeking an explanation for why it was excluded from the contract competition, and filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. It appears the move to take the matter to court has paid off.
Bill Boisture, Hawker Beechcraft CEO commended the Air Force for the decision.
"We believe strongly it is the right thing for the Air Force, the taxpayers and the people of Hawker Beechcraft,” Boisture said. “It is about the U.S. Air Force’s ability to build relationships with U.S. partner nations around the world for a generation to come."
While the initial award was for $300 million, the contract could eventually be worth nearly $1 billion.
Hawker has said production of the AT-6 would support 800 jobs at the company in Wichita — 500 engineers and program managers, and 300 machinists.
Kansas senators said they pleased with the Air Forces’ decision.
"At the end of the day, every competitor wants to know the process was fair," said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. "I think with this decision, we are closer to that goal for all.”
Sen. Jerry Moran said he will continue to see that Hawker receives a fair treatment.