Sierra Nevada Wins Light Air Support Contract, Again

The Air Force on Wednesday awarded Sierra Nevada of Sparks, Nev., a $427 million contract to supply 20 A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft to the Afghan air force and provide associated maintenance and training support under the Light Air Support program. Sierra Nevada beat out Hawker Beechcraft (now Beechcraft), which offered the AT-6. Deliveries of the A-29 turboprop airplanes are anticipated to commence in summer 2014 at a rate of two per month to operational air bases in Afghanistan, states the service’s Feb. 27 release. The Afghans will use the A-29s in roles including advanced flight training, surveillance, close air support, and air interdiction. “It is a great honor to serve our country by providing the aircraft, training, and support for this program,” said Taco Gilbert, Sierra Nevada’s vice president of integrated tactical solutions, in the company’s release. Sierra Nevada’s industry partner Embraer will assemble the A-29s in Jacksonville, Fla., states the release. The Air Force initially awarded Sierra Nevada the LAS contract in December 2011, but subsequently terminated it following a Hawker Beechcraft protest and an internal Air Force investigation that turned up deficiencies in the service’s source-selection paperwork. “I am confident that the source selection process was disciplined and meticulous,” said Lt. Gen. C.R. Davis, military deputy for acquisition in Air Force headquarters, of the do-over. “We are excited to provide a much-needed capability to our Afghan partners,” he added. (See also the Defense Department’s list of major contracts for Feb. 27.)