JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 27 (UPI) -- Embraer of Brazil has officially opened an assembly facility in Florida for A-29 aircraft it is producing for the U.S. Air Force LAS program.
The ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, attended by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, occurred despite a continuing protest and legal action by Beechcraft Corp. over the award for an initial 20 combat aircraft that will be supplied to Afghanistan.
"Today, we mark another achievement in Embraer's growing presence in the United States and the state of Florida, not only with our expansion in Jacksonville, but also with our first participation in a contract to supply high-tech equipment and services to the USAF," said Frederico Curado, Embraer S.A. president and chief executive officer.
The facility is in the process of being prepared for industrial operations with the support from the state of Florida, the city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Airport Authority.
The first A-29 Super Tucano is expected to be delivered next summer.
The U.S. Air Force in February awarded the Light Air Support aircraft to Embraer and partner Sierra Nevada Corp. in a contract re-competition that resulted from a protest to the U.S. Government Accounting Office by Beechcraft, which had offered a combat variant of its T-6 trainer.
After the new award to Embraer and SNC, Beechcraft launched a new GAO protest and filed for a temporary stay on Embraer from performing work on the program.
The Air Force, citing the importance of the program and the necessity to end delays in its performance, said it is overriding the appeal process.
The facility in Jacksonville will perform pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing, and flight testing of the Super Tucano.