Beechcraft’s Bid Was Higher Risk: Air Force

Beechcraft’s Bid Was Higher Risk: Air Force

Beechcraft Corp.‘s bid to supply light-attack aircraft for the Afghan military was cheaper but more of a risk than a competing offer from Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer SA, the U.S. Air Force concluded, according to a new report.

Beechcraft’s newly designed AT-6 aircraft had a higher technical risk than the A-29 Super Tucano, made by Sierra Nevada’s Brazilian subcontractor Embraer, according to a copy of the legal decision released today by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress which arbitrates contract disputes.

The office earlier this month denied Beechcraft’s latest protest of the Air Force’s decision to award Sierra Nevada a contract to provide an initial 20 light-attack planes to the Afghan air force. The contract is valued at $427 million and may be worth $950 million over five years.


“We find it distressing, frankly, that the Air Force selected a more expensive, less capable, foreign manufactured airplane with weapons and systems that are unfamiliar to and outside the control of the U.S. military,” Beechcraft Chief Executive Officer Bill Boisture fumed last week during a news conference at the Paris Air Show.

The Air Force determined that because Beechcraft’s AT-6 was designed to have a gross takeoff weight of 10,000 pounds — significantly more than the 7,000 pounds for the aircraft on which it’s based — the company was unlikely to achieve military certification within the necessary time period, according to the report.

As a result of that finding and others, the Air Force gave the AT-6 a risk rating of “high” in the aircraft technical requirements category, while the A-29 received a rating of “low.” Otherwise, the service scored the two aircraft the same in mission performance, even though the overall cost of Beechcraft’s proposal was significantly lower.

The Air Force estimated the total cost of the AT-6 purchase at $479 million and that of the A-29 at $615 million, according to the document.

Boisture said the A-29 may also be at risk of not meeting certification in time. “We question whether the Embraer aircraft when made with its foreign made weapons can be certified to the U.S. military standards in time to meet the mission-capability requirements of the contract,” he said at the show. “But time will tell.”

The Air Force had re-opened the competition after Beechcraft in 2011 protested the previous decision to the GAO and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The service subsequently discovered mistakes with the acquisition paperwork and agreed to cancel the contract.

This time around, both the office and the court denied Beechcraft’s challenge, which was based on the evaluation of its own proposal, the evaluation of Sierra Nevada’s proposal and the agency’s best-value trade-off decision, according to GAO.

“Both the court and the GAO have rendered their rulings,” Boisture said. “While we will abide by them, obviously, we disagree with them.”

The company has nevertheless identified several potential international buyers of the light-attack aircraft, according to Boisture, who didn’t elaborate. The firm intends to build 20 to 24 of the AT-6 once a partner is finalized, he said.

John Gibson, president of Beechcraft’s global mission support unit, said he was disappointed by the Air Force’s decision, but fully intends to find a launch partner for the aircraft soon. He said the market remains strong for a plane like the AT-6 in the regions such as South America, the Middle East and parts of North Africa.

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I hope Brazil buys the f-18. Otherwise this was a waste of time IMHO.

No kidding, Boeing and the U.S. is doing everything possible for that sale. Brazil needs to make a decision already.

Brazil likes the Gripen NG ( Air force Generals pick ) , so don’t be surprised when they go Gripen. Saab has offered a much larger Technology transfer than Boeing has, and Brazil wants to start building Fighters, to sell them through out South America. Boeing can’t do that where Saab can.

But I wish the US would buy a 100 or so AT-6’s or A-29’s for our “Dirt Wars” if the Air Force doesn’t want to fly them , let the Marines and the Army have them.

No, but Boeing can do what SAAB can’t, as seen with this and the KC-390: Boeing can sell Brazilian aircraft on the international market to a much greater degree. Building Brazilian Gripens is nice and all, but building them is the relatively easy part. Selling them is the hard part.

Just give them 20 A-10’s…

“We find it distressing, frankly, that the Air Force selected a more expensive, less capable, foreign manufactured airplane with weapons and systems that are unfamiliar to and outside the control of the U.S. military,” Beechcraft Chief Executive Officer Bill Boisture
Well Bill, we the American people find it distressing that your company would put forth a less than capable airframe that has a greater risk of technical difficulty than a foreign producer. Build a better aircraft and we’d consider giving you the contract instead. Put something forward which jeopardizes our troops, and you can go get !@#%$
“Beechcraft’s newly designed AT-6 aircraft had a higher technical risk than the A-29 Super Tucano…“
“This time around, both the office and the court denied Beechcraft’s challenge, which was based on the evaluation of its own proposal,”

I saw no mention of Afghanistan also being the enitity that is actually PAYING for these aircraft.….„

They have emeralds, copper and probably rare earth metals if someone can get in there and get them out.

I think the Chinese will try, but as long as they continue to oppress their Uighur minority there could be problems for the PRC.

Maybe a Middle Eastern company could have a go at it? Probably Saudis. Taliban know not to kill Saudis…

China has bought the mineral rights to Afghanistan. We “liberate” the country, and China takes the spoils.

Until China pisses someone off. We’ll see.

That said, China has two copper mines, we’ll see where it goes from there. Chile is boned if China gets Afghan copper.

What’s stranger is a news tidbit that suggests Afghanistan has oil reserves in the north.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010–08-15/afghanis

Probably close to the Uzbek areas, around Mazar-i-Sharif? Not in the Pashtun areas, not that it makes a difference. Other articles suggest the Chinese are moving in on it for oil.

Ironically, Russia may profit from Afghan raw materials sooner than the Chinese. It’ll be a chore to ship raw materials through the Hindu Kush north to the PRC through Tibet or the Uighur areas. Going through Pakistan or Iran are the alternates, but require shipping by sea to the PRC. I suppose a Pakistan->Tibet shipping route is possible, but unlikely.

I just wiped my ass with “higher technical risk”.

I still say they should have canned this whole fiasco and sent them some turbine engined C-47s with door mounted miniguns. Hell, with the turbine engines it would be a better attack airplane than the old AC-47 was in Vietnam that supported our own troops. Plus there would be no “technical risk” and the airplane would actually get off the ground with a reasonable amount of fire power on hot days from high altitude airports, which almost all Afghan airports are.

If you watch this video: http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​u​K​O​r​p​y​O​0​z48 then it becomes clear that the whole point of this program was to funnel some money to Embraer, probably for sending a Senator a nice “campaign contribution”, and not to provide anyone with an actual attack capability.

With you waste of time giving planes t a doomed corrupt Afghan military which s full of Taliban insurgents.

simple question, can not the afghan gov pick their own airplane, pay for theri own airplane? out nation building policy will be the down fall of our great country

First this mission should go to the Army. The Air Force doesn’t want it, they just don’t want the Army to have it. It will take an act of Congress to change it. Good luck with that. Congress passed a law taking away most of the Army’s fixed wing aircraft during the middle of the Vietnam war. That is why they have to fly expensive attack helicopters instead of economical light turboprop attack airplanes.

Second the AT6 must operated from paved airfields. The AT29 can operate off of dirt strips. Probably the best fit for the mission is the plane based on the Air Tractor crop duster. It has the lowest operating costs. It can operate off of corn fields, the sides of hills, most anything not strewn with boulders. The DEA has used it successfully in Columbia. The Air Force rejected it because it did not have retractable landing gear

Amen Lance!!!!!!

Does not matter what the AF General likes. Fighter jet sales are all politics these days.

Agree completely about all Politics, and that is why the Brazilians are very wary of dealing with the US because of sanctions which they have been hit with before when they wanted to but spares and upgrade. That is why the Gripen NG or Dassault Rafale will most likely win, and the Gripen NG is much cheaper all the way around ( purchase, CPFH etc )

At some point the aircraft we have will be so expensive we’ll definitely need wings of turboprops.

We’ll have F-22/F-35/F-16/F-15. We have not simplified our logistical base, especially if we can’t acquire enough to replace 1:1. And getting rid of the –16 and the –15 would be vociferously protested by lobbyists, who know that without American customers for parts support, the probability of future money from –15 or –16 (Block 70 F-16, etc) disappears, especially when the alternate F-35 is stupidly expensive.

We’re going to have to arm a Tajik/Hazara/Uzbek militia.

We will call them…The Northern Alliance.

We’ll never need manned turboprops though. It’ll all be drones…

No. Can’t sell them or give them away to foreign governments. Foreign sales are not allowed. That glorious gun is too powerful.

The Marines wouldn’t buy them. They already have F-18’s, much more capable in the ground attack & close air support role & a proven, speedy & agile fighter. Also, USAF would rather burn those planes than see the Army get them! The planes in question are not multi-role capable & don’t have the lift capacity nor the speed to have a place in our force structure.

I second that vote for the A-10s

There goes more American money for non-American employment.

What the selection comes down to is: what company is buying the best selection committee their money can buy. If the selection was based on the most capable airframe, it would be Beechcraft in a heartbeat. I think Beechcraft knows how to build and certify a 10,000 lb airframe. forbid anyone involved in the selection process from working for the winner for a period of 10 years; then see who gets the contract.
Anybody who thinks Afghanistan is actually going to pay for this hardware must still be sending letters to Santa.

The A29 Super Tacano is by far the best fit for the mission, it was design from the ground up for it’s intended role as a Light Support Aircraft, whereas the AT-6 was design initially as a trainer, Beechcraft beefed it up to fit the LSA role, beefing it up doesn’t necessarily mean a better product. The A29 is a combat proven platform. Another interesting fact is that a good portion of the manufactured parts and assembly are being done right here in the good ole USA. By the way I’m no aviator.….I was just a lowly grunt. When it counts: I want CAS I can count on that’ll get my boys and I home, and the job done. Heck when someones trying to kill you out there I could care less where the platform comes from, France, UK, Sweden, heck Russia makes great CAS aircraft…just get me CAS that’ll do the stinking job.…and hey Beechcraft, next time, instead of cutting corners, ditch the trainer.

20 A-10s will work

I agree ufck Afghanistan and Pakistan too for that matter. We should have rolled them over and this would be done.

Air Tractor’s AT-802U militarized ground attack crop duster would have been a better choice for Afghanistan.

China owns the US also

They are building them here in the US in Mobil, AL and will add jobs. How many jobs will beechcraft add?

I think it would be better for Afghanistan to buy equipment from their regional neighbors. It’s hard enough for NATO/UN/Allies to get equipment into Afghanistan already, it’ll be a nightmare getting anything in when Afghanistan is virtually on its own. COIN (or COINish, maybe) propeller planes include China’s Nanchang CJ-6, India’s HAL HPT-32 Deepak, and Pakistan’s PAC Super Mushshak . Afghanistan might even be able to construct knock-down kits and/or manufacture these aircraft.

Why is it that , our government finds it smart to get involved with supplying the Afghan government with anything. Who was it that said we must provide the Afghans with anything, beyond helping them rid themselves of the Taliban or Alquida. We must stop our Obama administration, from spending, like there is an overflowing bucket of money to waste. Where/when does this end. Who must we kick out of Washington to set this country back on track. We don’t owe other countries anything.

As long as there is no real attempt to stop foreign money from influencing our politicians, there’s going to politicians for sale. Hell, why do you think it’s ok that we run a huge trade deficit to China year after year? Who do you think has a better lobby in Congress, the US taxpayer or China?

Which was why the Air Force was smart enough to go with a Combat proven design such as the A-29 than the AT-6. The AT-6 doesn’t have the combat experience that the A-29 has. Which is why I think the US Air force should have gotten some A-29 Super Tucano’s for manned ISR, LAS for special operations, COIN and CAS.

We have more than 20 A-10’s sitting in Tucson, in mothballs, in the open. It would not take much to get them ready for combat. Besides, they are already paid for (sort of). Spending money outside of the US does nothing for job creation, does it? We don’t need to help Brazil arm all of the other Countries in South America.

How about the OV-10?

Love the OV10 but the production line is closed and this is for the Afghans.

If we were going to equip our troops I’d be itereted in exploring the OV10 or going with the cheaper and just as good AT6B that we are flying already.

The F22 isn’t combat proven. Using your logic we should be buying a cheaper foreign solution.

The Super Tuc. Is a great plane but it’s not significantly better justifying the higher price than the AT6B (we already use as variant so it’s in the system).

They are assembling them in FL and we don’t know what “assembly” entails. The proof is in the pudding.

And there Greg is the WHOLE reason for selecting a more expensive foreign plane.

Aerobatic trainer aren’t pansy airplanes. They have to take a lot of abuse from ham handed student pilots, be reliable, responsive, cheap to fly etc. The whole “it was a trainer” line is an Embraer talking point parroted by too many that don’t do a lot of independent thinking or just give into the BFF syndrome.

Google the T37 that was developed as a training aircraft for half a century and became a CAS plane for 13 countries serving widely in S. America (and still serving in some).

When you look at the numbers the A29 and AT6B are almost identical except for the price point. The only advantage to the Super Tuc is hoping the Brazilians will buy American fighters which remains to be seen.

When you look at the numbers the A29 and AT6B are almost identical except for the price point. The only advantage to the Super Tuc is hoping the Brazilians will buy American fighters which remains to be seen.

Why would we give Afghanistan a-10’s makes no sense. No logic there.

The agreements in this case were made BEFORE the Obama administration even took office, and this administration is legally bound to fulfill the previous administration’s agreements.

So you can blame it on George!

The USA isn’t all that crazy about giving the Afghans technologies that might fall into unfriendly hands. This is why, for example (amongst other reasons), we’re buying Russian helicopters for the Afghan air force.

Besides, the A-10’s sitting in the desert are likely slated to be used for spare parts for the A-10’s the US wants to keep in service.

Not very capable in CAS, no matter what the CMC says. Fast jets just can not spend time over target to establish a presence with the ground force commander, ALO and FSO. When the Naval special warfare command lease first one, then four Tucanos for use in Afghanistan the Army and Marine commanders took note. UAVs work well for a single strike on a Haji hiding out in a village, but are not capable of sustained delivery of steel on target.
As for the Tucano being so foreign, they have been in and out of Hulbert Field for years. Many USAF pilots have spent tours flying the Tucano with the Columbian Air Force.
Marine F/A-18s are rarely used in CAS in Afghanistan because, with the exception of the Marjan Offensive, the USMC rarely ventures outside of large built up fortifications such as Camp Bastion.
Still this is USAF overkill. I think the USAF has built up this program on paper to such a expense level, that it will eventually get cancelled. Which is what the USAF has always wanted.

A-10s sitting unused. I walked my dogs past 48 A-37 Dragonflys just East of Kolb Rd last Sunday. Now that’s a jet that flew slow enough for great CAS.
ATK has been buying up all the OV-1 Mohawk airframes they can find in front of VFWs and American Legion halls, taking them to Utah, rebuilding them and offering them overseas with the entire AH-64 Longbow weapons system grafted on. More than one way to get this done without lobbyists filling your Congressman or Senator’s Yacht fund even more.

“Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” — Thomas Jefferson

The AT-6 can and has operated from dirt strips. I would post a photo, but the administrator deleted my last attempt.

The Air Force fighter pilot mafia HATES the A-10 almost as much as they HATE the idea of an armed light attack turboprop. We won’t see any new production A-10s.

“For the A-10 or F-16, the cost per flying hour is around 15,000 to 17,000 dollars for fuel and maintenance.

Test center officials say the AT-6 is currently running at about 600 dollars per hour.”

The AT-6 has already dropped laser-guided bombs, fired Hellfire missiles and laser-guided 2.75 inch rockets, and shown interoperability with A-10s and F-16s as well as being maintained and refueled under “primitive” conditions in Nevada. “…[A] less than capable airframe…?” I think not.

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