Schwartz: Super Tucano failure risks AF reputation

Schwartz: Super Tucano failure risks AF reputation

The Air Force’s top officer explained Wednesday that today’s austere budget environment is not the time to revisit the problems in his service’s acquisition arm highlighted by the tanker program and now the failed Super Tucano contract.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz called it a “profound disappointment” after service leaders had to negate a $355 million contract awarded to Sierra Nevada and Embraer to buy 20 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft for the Afghan military.

Air Force Materiel Command has opened an investigation and service leaders were forced to alert the Justice Department. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Tuesday the service had fallen short in its pursuit of “perfection,” saying in a statement that service acquisition executive David Van Buren was “not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision”

Wednesday morning at the Defense Writers’ Group breakfast it was Schwartz’s turn to declare his commitment to getting it right and figuring out a way to buy a light-attack aircraft for the Afghan military before the budget allotment disappears. Schwartz went as far to say his service’s “institutional reputation is at stake.”

He assured the group that his airmen will “work their asses off” to figure out where the process went wrong and find a way to make it right. If there was anything other than an “innocent” mistake made, “there will be hell to pay,” Schwartz said.

Air Force leaders awarded the Super Tucano contract in December. The loser, Hawker Beechcraft, submitted a protest shortly after the service passed over their AT-6 turboprop. The Kansas-based aviation company lost the protest, but later filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The Super Tucano contract will not immediately disappear. It will be set aside as of March 2.

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Then you want other countries to buy american planes?!

Let them. Gives us more money, we will know everything about the equipment they have, and we will control the parts, labor, & technicians for the aircraft. Similar to how we loaned/sold/gave F-14s to Iran, but when they became unfriendly we cut off repair parts.

American’s buy foreign made stuff ALL the time, maybe it is time for others to start buying American.

Someone explain how re-doing this contract is going to be less expensive than a split buy.

We have to stop second guessing ourselves so much. Embraer won. Move on with life. A contract award should be final. Not have endless lawsuits. Lawyers are feasting on our ever declining budget. GE fought the second engine for too long. We need the best equipment at the best price for our soldiers. Let DOD make the final decision.

2nd engine would have saved billions of dollars in production as it has and continues to do so on F-16.

Over on DT, the article said the Justice Department was going to be involved with the contract cancellation, so there may be more to it than simple protests.

And Schwartz is surprised by yet another failure?

Schwartz went as far to say his service’s “institutional reputation is at stake.”

Brother, that horse left the barn L O N G A G O. (tanker fiasco, CASR Helo, C27, mothballing 30% of the A10s etc.)

I guess you didn’t notice that the US sells more fighter aircraft and other types of weaponry than any other country in the world.

“not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision”

Can somebody translate this to real-speak? We should have had these planes yesterday. By the time we actually get some light attack/observation aircraft we will be out of Afghanistan and they won’t be good for much beyond patrolling the border with Mexico.

The joke, schwartz, is this is a demanded requirement from two COCOMs yet you state unequivecally that this aircraft “will not fly in support of US forces”

yeah, he is real heart broken over this. just like the c27j.

He was full of it. Buying the planes for Afghans is stupid. If they want there own planes let them buy them! How about selling them some now cancelled C-27s and they can buy AT-6s with pylons for bombs. Most important thing is they buy not the US taxpayer to a nation where most hate us anyway.

Break out the A-1s out of moth ball or the blue prints and make new ones!

Seems to me that if a foreign design wins an Air Force competition, then the Air Force (or possibly Air FARCE)competition must’ve been an error. Come on guys no one’s gonna fall for that one again. Tanker, presidential helecoptor etc. Do we want foreign companies to bid and therefore reduce the cost of what we buy or just have single source suppliers who can charge what they want? Embraer’s Super Tucano was designed as an attack aircraft (internal guns). It seems to me AT6 is a training plane with bomb racks. Having said that, I am aware of the foreign origin of AT6, but it’s only based on the Swiss Pilatus PC9.

They could do themselves a real favor by getting some actual facts out there. If the DoJ is going to be involved potentially one would presume there is some potential for criminal conduct in all this. l think people are a little more forgiving of an institution when someone is just flat out lying or breaking the law as long as that institution doesn’t cover up, drag things out, or rationalize it away.

Hawker Beechcraft have some important friends.

The problem with these Foreign Military Sales/Awards programs, is that the foreign militaries in question aren’t actually buying the US-built (or from wherever) hardware for even meer pennies on the dollar. Most of the awarded contract price is, you guessed it, paid for by the ignorant US taxpayer who just doesn’t know that’s where the money is being wasted. Most of these FMS awards are doled out moreso to curry political favor for the US government than to actually enhance any semblance of “for the betterment of America’s security around the world”.
Where true patriotism and real profit are concerned, true patriotism (doing what’s right for the greater good of your country without concern for personal profit first) must often take the back seat.

No, a contract award should not be final. There are many legal and otherwise legitimate reasons to protest a contract award. The GAO handles most of these conflicts. Maybe someone with half a brain should have protested the ABU or the ACU or whatever worthless attire the Navy is wearing now? There has to be checks and balances in the system to ensure fairness and justness in the selection process.

“a foreign design wins an Air Force competition”

nope, its only rush/money cut… they want get out of afeghanistan in 2014 and dont have money and time to certificate hawker’s at-6

you forgot f-22 that is only used on parades, killing they pilots, f-35’s and other dubious aquisitions..

I can’t understand why we don’t take the OV-10 Broncos out of mothballs. This is a much superior aircraft…and American designed and made.

Agree, aquisition is screwed up as it is. To accept potentially criminal activity isn’t going to make it better.

No kidding. Second F-35 engine, ABU, screwing the Guard (which is going to come back to haunt them), Mortuary fiasco, Fit test, etc, etc. I swear our “leadership” in the Pentagon can’t seem to be able to get out of thier own way.

Part, my man, parts.

True, the C-130, C-17, F-16, AH-1 have been doing great.

On top of that, I doubt we have the tool’s or even the machine tools to fabricate those parts. Also we don’t have the manufacturing base and experience such as machinist that is required to remake those planes.

Boeing pitched a modernized “OV-10X” for this program, but it was just a concept unlike the other aircraft which were actually flying.

Another company offered a modern variant of the OV-1D. I think they took that project a bit farther than Boeing did the OV-10X.

The Super Tocano was developed from a trainer. The Texan 2B is not a trainer though it came from one. This is a talking point. Check out this article for a fair comparison but be prepared to having your bubble burst…

Does anyone have any actual results of the use of the Super Tucano in Afghanistan? Did they work? Because FAST MOVER close air support does not work well.

This plane is the replacement for the OH-58D.

but nobody who can will, and the army is too blind to see it.

And you know this how?

The Thais are upgrading theirs too…

How so? The Army isn’t allowed to fly armed fixed wing.

Describe what you think a “fast mover” is and how CAS is done “well”? Every aircraft can have a roll in CAS
MQ-1/9 already being there with great ISR, loiter time, and reachback
F-15, –16, GR4, B-1B for quick response
A-10 & AC-130 for long loiter times and heavy ordnance
B-52 for long loiter time and heavy ordnance
Helos for down and low
Aritillery for covering fire

I think a more realistic response would be what airframe *can’t* do CAS well? Perhaps a B-2 since they are few and far between.

OV-10x is the right plane for this. The fact that they have already ruled out procuring the OV-10X plainly illustrates just how flawed their decision process was. Look at the canopy position on the OV-10X, and then also look at the other capabilities offered by the OV-10X, a plane designed from a clean sheet to perform this role, but has already been ruled out. Instead they are choosing between two beefed up trainers, each with bigger engine and hard points, but with look down visibility still largely blocked by the wings, because the underlying desgn was optimized to be a trainer, not optimized for this role.

@ted: Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider should replace the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. http://​raider​.sikorsky​.com/​a​i​r​c​r​a​f​t​-​s​p​e​c​s​.​asp

I agree Spads forever or my second choice The bent wing Corsair.

This is another glaring example of why Acquisition should be taken out of the hands of the individual services and consolidated into a single, multi-service, Acquisision Office. Yes, they can assign Oficers to their projects but they would never rise above Deputy Program Manager. We send the whiz kids up against seasoned Aquisition professionals — and expect success — not likely.

You know, when this whole COIN thing started, my first thought was ‘why not resurrect the Bronchos with updated engines, avionics, etc?’ Proven platform that can do the job (still doing the job in a lot of cases). Seems like a “no-brainer”

You sound informed. My experience is the same…dated yet still raises the same concerns.

The stink on this contract award was that no reasons were provided for disqualifying the AT6. Shultz implies there may have been undue influence — which if true needs to be weeded out. Otherwise the USAF could have simply showed the evaluation matrix and got on with the original contract.

The only stated justification for selecting the Tucano was that the AT6 was not mission ready. This however is contradicted by the two USAF pre contract evaluations where the AT6 scored higher than the Tucano. And is contradicted by the fact that the AT6 is an Americanized, upgraded version of the PC9. The PC9 is used in these roles in 13 countries around the world.

It’s like saying a brand new model year pickup truck isn’t ready because the only one you have ever seen hauling a load is last year’s model.

I for one objected to the lack of transparency more than to the award itself. If the Brazilians won fair and square, then let them build it. If there are specific short falls in the AT6 performance, they need to be stated.

But if the Brazilian’s cheated, than they should be barred from future competition and people prosecuted.

You nailed it!

The best aircraft for the light attack program is the PA-48 enforcer developed in 1981 by Piper Aircraft.

@Bill … In the late 50’s Douglas was developing a turboprop powered A2D Skyshark, loosely based on the A-1 Skyraider it would replace, but with more than double the power, and redesigned accordingly. One notable difference was the cockpit was moved forward of the wing’s leading edge, significantly improving the view of the ground below. The program was dropped because the engine was slow in development, and the Navy lost interest in the aircraft. One could make an argument for revisting that design using the 4,637 shp engine and propellor currently used in the C-130J, or very similar combo from the C-27J. With a 6-blade prop turning at roughly 1000rpm, seems like they could synchronize a centerline cannon to fire between the blades at up to 6,000 rounds per minute. There remains a role for turboprops in COIN and light ground attack.

Can you say OV-10 X ?

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