Are We Buying the Super Tucano?

According to a letter of “strong and unequivocal” protest sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates Nov. 15 by Republican lawmakers Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, the Pentagon reportedly is negotiating to buy 100 Embraer-built Super Tucano aircraft. The lawmakers said such an agreement would be “inappropriate,” namely because it “would harm US companies and workers” and “weaken the industrial base.” They also noted that the arrangement with the Brazil-based company would “pre-judge” the review undertaken in August by USAF to find an aircraft for the Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance role and would contravene Congressional language in the forthcoming 2010 defense appropriations bill, which expects the still-in-process Quadrennial Defense Review to validate requirements for a light attack aircraft. (Embraer is among companies vying for LAAR —a group that reportedly also includes a revamped OV-10 from Boeing.)