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U.S. Air Force picks LAS contractor

SPARKS, Nev., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The Sierra Nevada Corp. and Brazil's Embraer Defense and Security have won the U.S. Air Force's Light Air Support aircraft contract but amid controversy.

Hawker Beechcraft, which had offered its AT-6 aircraft for the LAS, is seeking a temporary U.S. District court injunction on the LAS contract award after the Air Force dropped it from the competition.

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The LAS involves a turboprop for air support operations of ground troops, as well as for aerial reconnaissance and pilot training.

Sierra Nevada, with Embraer as the manufacturer, offered the A-29 Super Tocano, which was designed and built specifically for counterinsurgency scenarios.

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The firm-fixed-price order for 20 aircraft and support is worth more than $355 million. It was issued along with a basic indefinite-delivery/indefinite quality contract.

"We are honored by this decision and the opportunity to serve our country," said Taco Gilbert, vice president of ISR Business Development at SNC. "We believe in the goals of the Light Air Support mission and are proud to be able to support the United States in its partner-building efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

"American warfighters, American workers and our partner nations all win with this award."

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SNC said about 70 U.S. suppliers would be involved in meeting the Air Force contract.

Embraer has opened to assembly facilities in Florida and they will be the production sites for the aircraft.

"We are ready to support the LAS mission immediately," said Embraer Defense and Security President Luiz Carlos Aguiar. "This is a tremendous opportunity for Embraer, the citizens of Florida and the thousands of employees who will be part of our supply chain. We look forward to working with SNC and the U.S. Air Force to provide these aircraft."

Under the teaming arrangement between SNC and Embraer, Embraer is responsible for building the aircraft, while in-field logistics support will be provided by SNC.

Hawker Beechcraft says its AT-6 was developed in conjunction with the Air Force and meet Air Force specifications.

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