The U.S. Air Force has ordered work to stop on the Light Support Aircraft (LAS) contract for the Afghan Air Force, officials announced Jan. 4.
The service last month awarded the $355 million fixed-price contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. and partner Embraer for 20 A-29 Super Tucano light turboprop training and attack aircraft.
"Due to litigation currently pending before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Air Force today has issued a temporary stop work order for the Light Air Support Contract … " Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Jack Miller said in a statement. "The competition and source selection evaluation were fair, open and transparent. The Air Force is confident in the merits of its contract award decision and anticipates that the litigation will be quickly resolved."
Hawker Beechcraft Corp., based in Wichita, Kan., has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government after the company's AT-6 light attack turboprop, an armed variant of the T-6 Texan II primary trainer, was ejected from the competition for submitting a "technically unacceptable" bid.
Hawker Beecher said that the Air Force has not explained why the bid was disqualified.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said that the service needs to explain why the AT-6 was thrown out of the competition.
"It wasn't just the case that they awarded to Embraer and chose a different bidder," he said. "They kicked Beechcraft out of the competition after years of working on it, with literally no explanation."
Pompeo said the Air Force may have legitimate reasons to exclude the Hawker aircraft. "They simply have to let America in on that secret, and the company."
The U.S. Air Force wants the aircraft delivered by April 30, 2014.
A spokeswoman for Embraer said she was not aware of the stop-work order, while Sierra Nevada representatives didn't return calls for comment as of late Jan. 4. Hawker-Beechcraft did not respond as of late Jan. 4.