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Hawker Beechcraft suing over exclusion

WICHITA, Kan., Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. aircraft manufacturer is filing suit in relation to its AT-6 aircraft being excluded from a U.S. Air Force contract competition worth nearly $1 billion.

Hawker Beechcraft said the suit was being filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims after the U.S. Government Accountability Office said it wouldn't review the protest the company made against an Air Force decision and the service's lack of explanation for it.

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"We are disappointed in the GAO's decision as we were relying on their investigation to provide transparency into what has been a bidding process of inconsistent, irregular and constantly changing requirements," said Bill Boisture, Hawker Beechcraft chairman and chief executive officer.

"We find ourselves still without answers, which is unacceptable, and continue to believe that our exclusion from this important contract was made without basis in process or fact."

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The company said it and its partners have spent more than $100 million to meet Air Force requirements for the program and that the AT-6 had been evaluated as meeting specifications.

In its announcement of the filing of suit, Hawker Beechcraft said its exclusion from the competition could result in a foreign company winning the Light Air Support program work.

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"As a U.S. company, we believe we deserve a fair chance at this contract," Boisture said. "Hawker Beechcraft has been delivering U.S. Department of Defense aircraft certified to military specifications for more than 50 years. We are qualified and prepared to continue doing so for the Air Force's LAS operations with our capable, affordable and sustainable AT-6 aircraft."

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The Air Force's LAS program is for turbo-prop aircraft for close air support. Such aircraft were used in used in Vietnam but in years since such missions have been performed by jet fighters.

The Air Force is eyeing the planes for use in places such as Afghanistan.

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