Light Air Support Work Proceeds

The Air Force last week notified the Government Accountability Office that it authorized Sierra Nevada to restart work on the Light Air Support program, under which the company will provide 20 A-29 light-attack airplanes to the Afghan air force. The Air Force made this move “in order to honor a critical and time-sensitive US commitment” to the Afghans, said service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek on March 15, the same day as the notification. She said the Competition in Contracting Act “provides for such actions, called overrides, when it is determined to be in the best interests of the United States.” Work on the LAS project had stopped on March 11, several days after Beechcraft lodged a protest with GAO over the Air Force’s decision in late February to award the LAS contract to Sierra Nevada’s industry team, which includes Brazil’s Embraer, maker of the A-29, instead of Beechcraft, which offered its AT-6. GAO has until June 17 to rule on the protest; Stefanek said the Air Force’s override does not impact that timeline. Also on March 15, Embraer signed a 10-year lease on a 40,000-square-foot hangar at the Jacksonville International Airport in Jacksonville, Fla., where it will assemble the LAS A-29s.