Who should build our next light attack aircraft?

posted at 8:30 am on January 7, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

The United States Air Force is facing questions from Hawker Beechcraft Corp. after a recent GAO decision effectively removed them from the running in a bid to build our next generation of light attack aircraft.

Hawker Beechcraft, which has been excluded by the U.S. Air Force from competing for a contract to supply a new light attack aircraft, is fighting mad and fighting back.

The Wichita-based manufacturer of business jets and turboprops filed suit yesterday with the Court of Federal Claims following notification that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) declined to review its protest of the Air Force decision, which was made public in November.

The company’s AT-6 light attack variant of the T-6 turboprop trainer was previously considered a front-runner in the competition for a contract valued at nearly $1 billion, and Hawker Beechcraft and its partners in the AT-6 say they have invested more than $100 million preparing for the competition.

Having already built T-6 trainers for multiple air forces around the world, Hawker Beechcraft describes the graduation to producing the attack aircraft as a natural progression. At stake are more than 1,400 American jobs, with at least 800 of them going to Wichita, Kansas. If the company is out of the race, the only remaining competitor is listed as being Sierra Nevada Corp.based in Nevada. The problem with that, however, is that critics have noted that Sierra Nevada is more of a front company and the actual manufacturer would be Brazilian-based Embraer, manufacturer of the Super Tucano, which would take the place of the AT-6.

Sierra Nevada disputes this claim.

Taco Gilbert, a vice president of business development at Sierra Nevada, said in an emailed statement that the number of U.S. jobs supported by his company’s win of the contract is more than 1,200. Those include 50 new high-tech and engineering positions in Jacksonville, Fla., and those supported through its network of 70 U.S. suppliers in 21 states. He said 88 percent of its Super Tucano is made from parts supplied by U.S. companies or countries that qualify under the Buy America Act.

“’’It will be a U.S.-built aircraft and it represents a significant boost to the aerospace industry in Florida and Colorado,” Gilbert said.

But it’s not just the question of where the planes will be built and who will benefit from the associated jobs. At PJ Media, Bryan Preston does some digging and discovers that that manufacturer of the Super Tucano has more than a few problems of their own.

That competitor carries significant and possibly disqualifying baggage in the form of connections to the Iranian government, and a new bribery investigation. Embraer is not only controlled by the Brazilian government, it is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That Act prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials or making other illegal payments to gain or retain business.

That investigation began in November 2011, and appears to still be in the early stages. Embraer is accused of engaging in bribery in three countries, none of which have been identified publicly. If found guilty, the company could be banned from doing any business with the US government at all. The SEC’s investigation of Embraer went public about three weeks before the Air Force disqualified Hawker Beechcraft without explanation.

Preston also wonders if there aren’t additional political considerations at play here. Hawker Beechcraft is also a well known manufacturer of those infamous “corporate jets” that the Obama administration loves to go on and on about. Further, Embraer is very vocal in boasting about their policy of environmental sustainability. With an administration so fixated on “going green,” one wonders if that didn’t play into the decision to send the work to Brazil rather than keeping it in Kansas?


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Taco Gilbert, a vice president of business development at Sierra Nevada”

I was wondering what happened to my taco…

hillsoftx on January 7, 2012 at 8:33 AM

Sierra Nevada is more of a front company and the actual manufacturer would be Brazilian-based Embraer

Obama promised that we’d be Brazil’s “best customers.” But I thought he was talking about only oil.

itsnotaboutme on January 7, 2012 at 8:33 AM

I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.” ―Luke, to fellow Rebel pilot before the attack on the Death Star[src]

RAGIN CAJUN on January 7, 2012 at 8:37 AM

Got build up that Brasilian economy you know, can’t have all them Brasilians out of work.

clippermiami on January 7, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Why not build them in China? That way they get to steal our secrets and build crappy planes all at the them time.

Kissmygrits on January 7, 2012 at 8:39 AM

At the very least, the USAF needs to explain why Hawker Beechcraft was summarily disqualified from consideration. Something stinks.

flipflop on January 7, 2012 at 8:40 AM

These people have no shame.

TimBuk3 on January 7, 2012 at 8:41 AM

The deck is definitely stacked, but the Super Tucano is a proven COIN craft design, while the AT-6 is a brand new one. It would have been good to see an actual competition, but Teh SCOAMF has to reward his leftist allies before 1/20/2013.

Steve Eggleston on January 7, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Nevada? Isn’t that where Harry Reid is from?

I didn’t read anything about which plane is better. Is that even a consideration here?

forest on January 7, 2012 at 8:46 AM

I’m waiting to hear about the connection between Embraer and the Obama administration. You guys HAVE to know that’s coming.

Tomolena1 on January 7, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Meanwhile…….

Boeing to close Wichita plant, cites defense cuts
Jan 4 2011
***********

(Reuters) – Boeing Co (BA.N) said it would close a plant in Wichita by the end of 2013 that employs more than 2,160 workers maintaining and converting planes for the military, part of a move to cut costs as the U. S. defense budget tightens.

The decision announced on Wednesday drew a bitter reaction from Kansas politicians, who felt Boeing had betrayed commitments to the state and their efforts to help the company win a big refueling aircraft contract from the U.S. Air Force.

The Wichita plant is the base for the company’s Global Transport & Executive Systems business, which supports the U.S. Air Force’s executive fleet, and its B-52 and 767-based aerial tanker programs.
(More….)
==========

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/05/us-boeing-wichita-idUSTRE8031CH20120105

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Nevada? Isn’t that where Harry Reid is from?

I didn’t read anything about which plane is better. Is that even a consideration here?

forest on January 7, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Your logic has disqualified you from further comment…just nod your head in agreement.
Which is better can be best summed up with “It depends one what you mean by better”. Better for America or better for “me”…and since “I won”, you know the answer.

right2bright on January 7, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Brazil’s president is a former rebel and communist. First Obama kills our Gulf oil industry so we have to buy Brazilian oil, and now we have to buy Brazilian aircraft.

Not a coincidence.

darwin on January 7, 2012 at 8:54 AM

A turboprop, really? So we’re not making jets any more? What’s next, a steam powered naval fleet? This whole thing sounds like another government boondoggle if you ask me.

HarryBackside on January 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Oops,wrong date,

Meanwhile…….

Boeing to close Wichita plant, cites defense cuts
Jan 4 2011
***********

Thats 2012!

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Why do we need any aircraft to “attack”?

That sounds so aggressive. What we need is to meet this countries needs for a living wage and free healthcare and federal housing subsidies so that people don’t have to live in ghettos. We need to give everyone free high speed Internet. And while we’re at it shouldn’t we provide government run food oasis spots in places where people have stolen retailers blind? These people should be given FREE food and most everything.

Who needs military spending? We need to “invest in our people here at home”!!

All hail the defenseless Dependent States of America!!

Kiss the ring America……..OBAMA 2012!

PappyD61 on January 7, 2012 at 8:58 AM

A turboprop, really? So we’re not making jets any more? What’s next, a steam powered naval fleet?

HarryBackside on January 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Jets are necessarily large & heavy. Some missions require small, light aircraft.

itsnotaboutme on January 7, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Oops!
======

Odd Coincidence:

Soros-Affiliated Brazilian Company Looks to Win Major DOD Contract Over U.S. Competition
Jan 2 2012
**********

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2012/01/odd-coincidence-soros-affiliated.html

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Land and housing is going to be real cheap in Wichita in 2013. Look for a real housing boom in Sparks Nevada which is a few miles east of Reno and the home of Sierra Nevada Corp. Harry Reid is collecting big time on his favors to the White House.

edsjim on January 7, 2012 at 9:12 AM

I think it might be as simple as Harry Reid of Nevada versus 2 GOP Senators from Kansas. Reid under Obama wins.

And yes, turboprop attack aircraft can be very useful in our modern battlefield, especially for close air support of ground operations. In fact, in the jet age, it’s probably the only application, since jet versus turboprop dogfights would be very one-sided, but still a very valid application.

Or not, since Obama’s cutting ground troops to the bone.

oddjob on January 7, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Look, I’m all for insourcing national security, but could it be that Hawker Beechcraft Corp. screwed the pooch in the bid process? I was outraged, too, until I read the first commenter to the AINOnline story:

“Seems Hawker (the Canadian portion of the name) Beechcraft doesn’t understand the US government procurement system at the least and more likely it is because of the answer they got.

When you are found to be outside of the competitive range (and it appears it was for technical reasons as stated in the GAO decision denying their protest) debriefs cannot occur until an award is made. Also, late is late – Hawker had first 3 three days to file a pre-award protest and then 10 days to request a debrief – the GAO found they did neither for 17 days. Hawker says it is because of the amount of time to get the proper notifications to the proper manager even though they signed for the certified letter. Does Hawker now have an opening in the mail room?”

I have not vetted this commenter’s argument, but having lived in the government procurement world for 12 years of my career, it certainly sounds plausible.

PD Quig on January 7, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Taco Gilbert? Couldn’t get passed that.

Tasha on January 7, 2012 at 9:15 AM

The T-6 was a propeller driven trainer which goes back to WW-11. There was an AT-6 used in the Korean War, flown by So. Korean pilots…rockets under the wings. I wonder if the present T-6 is related to these. Also, I wonder what’s wrong with the A-10. This is a really good close support a/c. Any one have insight?

elintex on January 7, 2012 at 9:17 AM

The thing missing from that article is WHY were they disqualified after they were the front runner?

JeffinSac on January 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM

GM should build it.

CorporatePiggy on January 7, 2012 at 9:22 AM

A turboprop, really? So we’re not making jets any more? What’s next, a steam powered naval fleet? This whole thing sounds like another government boondoggle if you ask me.

The turboprop is a jet engine mated to a propeller. At speeds below 0.6 Mach (about 400 mph) the turboprop is more efficient than a (turbo)jet. This is the reason the C-130 has been around for more than 50 years. There is nothing more modern that can do all the low, slow, and short runway operations that this remarkable weapon system can do.

wukong on January 7, 2012 at 9:23 AM

GM should build it.

CorporatePiggy on January 7, 2012 at 9:22 AM

The AT-6 ThunderVolt.

Electrongod on January 7, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Also, I wonder what’s wrong with the A-10. This is a really good close support a/c. Any one have insight?

elintex on January 7, 2012 at 9:17 AM

I have no idea why they would need a slow, prop light attack aircraft, especially since they have the A-10. Additionally, Air Force brass types are usually hot for sleek, modern looks to fit with their image. They hated the A-10 until it’s performance squelched their complaints.

The whole thing sounds like they came up with a specification tailored to Brazil’s Embraer. Why we would even consider a foreign manufacturer is beyond me.

darwin on January 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

GM should build it.

CorporatePiggy on January 7, 2012 at 9:22 AM

The AT-6 ThunderVolt.

Electrongod on January 7, 2012 at 9:26 AM

The “Thunder” is from the roar of the rubber band as it unwinds at a ferocious pace.

aquaviva on January 7, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Someone mentioned a competition between planes -
What a great idea. I mean, isn’t that how it used to be done?
Of course since President SmartPower has chased American deep-sea oil platforms to Brazil, maybe there’s a job waiting for the Black Narcissus in Rio.
This entire fustercluck is the direct responsibility of ØbaMaØ and the ‘psychophants’ who surround him.

Aide: “But bright colors make Michelle look fat!”
Ø’Bumbler: “Michelle who?”

“Buy American” my glorious glutes.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 7, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Ugh!
=====

Obama Administration Sends Weapons Contract to Foreign Company with Ties to Iran
Nov 21 2011
******************

What the heck? It’s only our national security.

But Brazil has their own explaining to do regarding their long and sordid history with the rogue country of Iran.

According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, “In 1989, Brazil chose to sell Tucanos, Embraer’s relatively low cost and basic military aircraft, to Iran.” Currently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force operates around 40 Embraer T-27 Tucanos, according to the Washington Institute. In fact, the Iranians use the Tucano as their primary close air support aircraft.

In recent years, Brazil has continued its troubling friendship with Iran and ruthless leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Hudson Institute notes that, “Another area of tension between Brazil and the United States relates to Iran. In November 2009, President da Silva invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil. In May 2010, da Silva helped broker a deal in which Iran would ship only a portion of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for reprocessing; the rest would remain in Iranian hands, where it could be further enriched for nuclear weapon production.”
(More)
=======

http://www.redstate.com/aglanon/2011/11/21/obama-administration-sends-weapons-contract-to-foreign-company-with-ties-to-iran/

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:38 AM

The AT-6 ThunderVolt.

Electrongod on January 7, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Electrongod:With Freaggin Lasers!:)

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:39 AM

We are buying this bird to help US train and arm foreign allies. The Super Tucano is a proven system with a strong following throughout S America (Columbia included) and beyond.

When you are choosing a system you have not used in over 50yrs it would be wise to go with a known quantity that allies have already chosen. Insures you get what you need for your buck sometimes finding things you thought irrelevant very relevant.

Bottom line was we were making a choice on a product we had no foundation experience to grade with and the AT-6 while an american product has no foundation of foreign customers to vouch for it.

Safe choice my opinion.

If it was up to O and dem allies the military would have bought nothing instead investing in R&D for the next gen something that they would then later cancel in favor of investing more R&D for the next gen something. Meanwhile our military is flying 30+yr old equipment with 50+yr old designs surviving only due to upgrades.

THE MILITARY NEEDS A BUILDING PHASE TO REPLACE EQUIPMENT. IT NEEDS TO SPIN BACK UP TO AROUND 7-8%GDP NOT BE CUT.

C-Low on January 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Electrongod:With Freaggin Lasers!:)

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:39 AM

LOL…

Electrongod on January 7, 2012 at 9:42 AM

O/T,Meanwhile,with the Straits of Hormuz looming…..

Iran nuclear program Iranian government welcomes US Navy’s ‘humanitarian’ rescue of 13 fishermen kidnapped by pirates
******************************************************************

ABC NewsStory metadata:
Submitted 11 mins ago from http://www.abc.net.au by editor

http://www.breakingnews.com/
============================

Iran welcomes ‘humanitarian’ rescue from pirates
Updated January 08, 2012 00:16:34
*********************************
(Video and Images)More…..

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-08/iran-reax-to-us-pirate-rescue/3762668

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:44 AM

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:39 AM
LOL…

Electrongod on January 7, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Electrongod:Couldn’t resist!:)

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:45 AM

So if pennypinching is everything the winner will be?

Limerick on January 7, 2012 at 9:47 AM

That’s it Barack, give those Brazilians paychecks instead of food stamps. Are you also making arrangements for them to fly up here in November and congregate in those states where you’re fighting voter i.d. law?

bflat879 on January 7, 2012 at 9:52 AM

The T-6 was a propeller driven trainer which goes back to WW-11. There was an AT-6 used in the Korean War, flown by So. Korean pilots…rockets under the wings. I wonder if the present T-6 is related to these. Also, I wonder what’s wrong with the A-10. This is a really good close support a/c. Any one have insight?

elintex on January 7, 2012 at 9:17 AM

The only relationship between the old T-6 and the new one is the designation and original purpose. The original Texan was a radial-engined joint USAAF/USN trainer from North American Aviation (and a pretty decent aerobatic plane which I had the pleasure of flying in), while the turboprop Texan II was adapted from the Pilatus PC-9 by Beechcraft to become the current joint USAF/USN trainer.

As for why the A-10 is deemed “insufficient” for light strike, I believe that is endurance-related; turboprops tend to have a longer loiter time over the target than jets.

Steve Eggleston on January 7, 2012 at 9:53 AM

A company based in Nevada would get the contrac? Hmmm, I smell something very “dingy” going on here.

bgibbs1000 on January 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Thanks Canopfor for the additional links.

Too early to make my blood boil but close! This administration is beyond the pale and the MSM that allows it to continue unchallenged is beyond belief.

CoffeeLover on January 7, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Conservative activists: “We want our government run like a lean, mean corporate machine. Get us someone with experience cutting costs and downsizing and how”

Government: “OK, well we’ll just follow the principle cost cutting/profit making measure of the past 40 years, outsourcing labor to other nations at the expense of American sub contractors and workers. This includes defense contracting, one of the biggest sources of government debt

Conservative activists: “Wait, wha? But, we don’t like that our military is outfitted with foreign made weapons. We just want them wearing foreign made uniforms, and we want our kids dressing in foreign made clothes and we want to drive foreign made vehicles. But we draw the line at F-22s dammit! Indignation!!!”

And, scene.

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

These are not drones are they? Because if they were we probably could have Iran build it , like the one that Bari couldn’t get back, even after he asked so nicely.

angrymike on January 7, 2012 at 10:09 AM

What if Brazil/Europe/China had the contract – would they outsource to the US? That would be a no. So why are we?

One comment though: The Hawker Beechcraft T-6 is actually a Switzerland (Pilatus) based aircraft, with modifications, and assembled in Wichita. Ironic?

Gotta love the name “AT-6 Thundervolt”!

AndAero on January 7, 2012 at 10:09 AM

As for why the A-10 is deemed “insufficient” for light strike, I believe that is endurance-related; turboprops tend to have a longer loiter time over the target than jets.

Steve Eggleston on January 7, 2012 at 9:53 AM

The A-10 is actually a pretty large aircraft, and one that they are in the process of being phased out. The things have a lot of extra weight in their defensive systems and gun, which is really a waste if what you want to do is loiter around a while in a safe environment and maybe fire one or two missiles or bombs at a target.

Count to 10 on January 7, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Conservative activists: “We want our government run like a lean, mean corporate machine. Get us someone with experience cutting costs and downsizing and how”

Government: “OK, well we’ll just follow the principle cost cutting/profit making measure of the past 40 years, outsourcing labor to other nations at the expense of American sub contractors and workers. This includes defense contracting, one of the biggest sources of government debt

Conservative activists: “Wait, wha? But, we don’t like that our military is outfitted with foreign made weapons. We just want them wearing foreign made uniforms, and we want our kids dressing in foreign made clothes and we want to drive foreign made vehicles. But we draw the line at F-22s dammit! Indignation!!!”

And, scene.

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Question: did you actually believe that you had made an important point when you posted this?

Count to 10 on January 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

That competitor carries significant and possibly disqualifying baggage in the form of connections to the Iranian government,…

Oh for the love of God! How is this not freaking treasonous?!

Barry needs to make us a true 3rd world county. No economy, a tiny military, a strong federal police force, socialized medicine, no infrastructure, high energy costs and now we can begin the transition of buying our weapons from some other country instead of building them here ourselves.

JellyToast on January 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

My understanding is that the A-10 is no longer produced but those we have in inventory are being upgraded with new wings and avionics. I am would really like to know which aircraft under consideration is the better aircraft. And, I really don’t like the fact that the Brazilian company does business with Iran. I only wish that Burt Rutan would have come up with a great design for such an aircraft. I know that at one time he said he was interested.

SC.Charlie on January 7, 2012 at 10:17 AM

elintex on January 7, 2012 at 9:17 AM

A-10 was designed to kill tanks. Goes low and slow. Originally designed with a Soviet Union invasion in western Europe in mind.

Primary weapon is a 30mm Gatling gun, depleted uranium rounds. Nasty little dude. Can also carry a variety of guided and unguided munitions.

Recall in Iraq I, the highway of death? That was the A-10′s handiwork.

For a light attack aircraft, type of engine is of less importance than performance. I am not familiar with this a/c or what the AF plans to do with it. However, we have been fighting in a lot more cities where a low and slow manned platform would be useful. Using buildings for shielding, it would be hard to bring down, and with a more efficient engine would give them longer time over target. But, just a guess.

My experience in AF acquisition is that the teams are very apolitical, but the AF leadership can very subtly impact decisions and be influenced by outside forces. Hard to tell for sure in this situation without knowing AF requirements and actual contractor proposals. If Beechcraft had a crappy proposal it doesn’t matter how much money they spent–too bad so sad. If they just got dumped over a political decision, I’d like to see someone’s head roll over this one.

STL_Vet on January 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Count to 10 on January 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

The point is that this supposedly “red meat” conservative story is actually the natural end result of “free market” ideology and corporatist conservatism since the Reagan Administration. I thought my little dramatic scene illustrated that, but I’m always happy to provide cliffs notes versions for the less theatrically adroit in the room.

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Surprised that Harry Reid’s name does not figure prominently in this.

GarandFan on January 7, 2012 at 10:21 AM

JellyToast on January 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Doing business with Iran = Bad. But doing business with Saudi Arabia = Good?

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:22 AM

By 6:00PM on January, 20th 2013, Obama should land in Chicago to mourn his election loss as freedom is returned to the American people.

Obama can meet his new neighbor who replaced his jailed neighbor who assisted him with his illegal land deal where they will discuss racism until long hours of the morning.

HopeHeFails on January 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM

The A-10 is a beautiful plane! We’d watch the air force fly over our base doing maneuvers while I was in Germany with it. They could roll that thing on a dime. If you’ve never seen one in action, it is a thing of beauty and is a true tank predator! It also has good shielding around the cockpit. Basically, it’s a fly cannon. Beautiful plane.

I remember Bill Clinton during his first few months in office, stated that the A-10 needed to retire. He retired the SR-71, but the A-10 is still here, thank God.

When Clinton made that remark, it was so odd.

That’s another shame. The SR-71. They literally broke the molds on that one. I read they were so afraid the blueprints would be stolen they destroyed a lot of the original papers and equipment used in manufacturing it. That was another mystery, and I truly think was pushed by our enemies. There was no reason to get rid of that spy plane. None at all. Satellites can be monitored. That plane could not. It was faster than a missile. One of our greatest weapons and they buried it.

JellyToast on January 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM

With an administration so fixated on “going green,” one wonders if that didn’t play into the decision to send the work to Brazil rather than keeping it in Kansas?

Add this to the calculus:

Obama shut down US oil drilling, and continues to hum the “no tax breaks for BIG OIL” tune. Then provides over a billion dollars to Brazil for oil exploration.

Go figure.

BobMbx on January 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM

With an administration so fixated on “going green,” one wonders if that didn’t play into the decision to send the work to Brazil rather than keeping it in Kansas?

No doubt you feel the same way about every corporate CEO who chooses to outsource labor or manufacturing to another country because it cost less money. Oh wait, no, you’re a massive hypocrite. My mistake.

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Oops!
======

Odd Coincidence:

Soros-Affiliated Brazilian Company Looks to Win Major DOD Contract Over U.S. Competition
Jan 2 2012
**********

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2012/01/odd-coincidence-soros-affiliated.html

canopfor on January 7, 2012 at 9:07 AM

The thing missing from that article is WHY were they disqualified after they were the front runner?

JeffinSac on January 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I think it might be as simple as Harry Reid of Nevada versus 2 GOP Senators from Kansas. Reid under Obama wins.

And yes, turboprop attack aircraft can be very useful in our modern battlefield, especially for close air support of ground operations. In fact, in the jet age, it’s probably the only application, since jet versus turboprop dogfights would be very one-sided, but still a very valid application.

Or not, since Obama’s cutting ground troops to the bone.

oddjob on January 7, 2012 at 9:13 AM

One must connect the dots to make sense of it.

Dasher on January 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Doing business with Iran = Bad. But doing business with Saudi Arabia = Good? – libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:22 AM

I don’t like the Saudis either. There is not one Christian Church or Jewish Synagogue in the entire country. But they hate the Iranians and really just want to make money buy selling their oil. We just sold them about 70 brand new F-15s, which does concern me. However, the F-22 and F-35 are supposedly far, far superior aircraft. I was watching the military channel several months ago and they were discussing the capabilities of the F-22. They said that the F-22 went up against around 10 F-15s and came away the clear winner.

SC.Charlie on January 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM

I thought a lot of the reason we “had” to bail out GM and Chrysler was because of national defense? So now we’re thinking of outsourcing some of it? Yeesh.

eforhan on January 7, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Obama is a traitor, plain and simple.

Start impeachment proceedings.

Like the O.J. trial however, we could run into a problem. There’s “too much evidence”.

fogw on January 7, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Old story – The Shah of Iran bought a fleet of F-14s for his Air Force. When the Shah fell our people simply disabled the fleet. I imagine the same thing could happen to the Saudis f-15s if they turn on us. Who knows what is in all those complex avionic systems?

SC.Charlie on January 7, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Bring back The Skunkworks!

CurtZHP on January 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

No doubt you feel the same way about every corporate CEO who chooses to outsource labor or manufacturing to another country because it cost less money. Oh wait, no, you’re a massive hypocrite. My mistake.

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

No no, you’re right. National security concerns and high technology are exactly the same as shirts, shoes, and ping pong balls.

You are officially too stupid to understand the difference.

fossten on January 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

I am wondering if George Soros has a stake in Sierra Nevada or Embraer. He has a substantial stake in Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company that received the $2 billion loan from the U.S. Import-Export Bank last year for off-shore drilling, which I thought was bad.

bw222 on January 7, 2012 at 11:01 AM

friggin emb’s are a throwaway aircraft.
good example, the emb 120 (prop) windshields are used for the 135/140/145 500+mph jets.
yeah they worked really well, used to have to keep 20+ pairs in stock at all times.

dmacleo on January 7, 2012 at 11:03 AM

In fairness, America does have a long history of building really crappy airplanes, right?

vermin on January 7, 2012 at 11:09 AM

I have an aerospace journalism background and like a few others in this thread I can say the Super Tucano is a highly regarded, proven design. This is not an insane choice for the mission. Having said that, I’m having a hard time finding specifics on why the AT-6 was rejected apart from “you haven’t done this before” (which in procurement is not a trivial problem).

Chriscom on January 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

No doubt you feel the same way about every corporate CEO who chooses to outsource labor or manufacturing to another country because it cost less money. Oh wait, no, you’re a massive hypocrite. My mistake.

libfreeordie on January 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

War 101: Unlike business, the logistics of supply for war should be as much as is possible controlled by us.

Liberal stupidity I don’t mind as it is often a product of ignorance. However, liberal arrogance gets old very quickly.

Bunsin2 on January 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM

In fairness, America does have a long history of building really crappy airplanes, right?

vermin on January 7, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Your right (rolls eyes). We need to be more like the ______(insert random European country)…

Yes I did get the sarcasm but couldn’t resist :)

Bunsin2 on January 7, 2012 at 11:33 AM

GM should build it.

CorporatePiggy on January 7, 2012 at 9:22 AM

The AT-6 ThunderVolt.

Electrongod on January 7, 2012 at 9:26 AM

What’ll be the effective range per charge?

Is there some way they could be recharged in the air?

What if there’s a massive manufacturer’s recall in the middle of a critical mission?

listens2glenn on January 7, 2012 at 11:34 AM

SIERRA NEVADA is from Harry Reids home state…their spokesperson is a man named Taco, who claims the plane will not be built in South America, where a company is under investigation for bribery.
YEP! I…. BELIEVE HIM!

KOOLAID2 on January 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM

HarryBackside on January 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

You don’t really understand the concept of a “COIN” aircraft, do you? And you don’t seem to understand what is needed in a Close-Air Support situation.
Perhaps you should gain a bit more knowledge on the subject before you embarrass yourself further.

Solaratov on January 7, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Perhaps if we followed the money….

ironman on January 7, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Bring back The Skunkworks!

CurtZHP on January 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

The Skunkworks has never shut down.

Solaratov on January 7, 2012 at 12:03 PM

A turboprop, really? So we’re not making jets any more? What’s next, a steam powered naval fleet? This whole thing sounds like another government boondoggle if you ask me.

HarryBackside on January 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

The Air Force is looking for an AT-6 like aircraft for several reasons. First they are looking for an aircraft for a contract to be fulfilled for the Afghan Air Force.

Secondly, the Air Force is considering adding several light attack squadrons supplementing or replacing F-16 and A-10 squadrons. This may sound crazy, but the cost per flying hour compared to the threat environment in places like Afghanistan is extremely high. The fuel and maintenance for a more sophisticated jet powered aircraft would cost more than the purchase price of an AT-6 all together after just a few sorties.

The fact is that in places where the USAF has air supremacy (no opposing air force or SAM sites), it is a very expensive exercise to use an F-16 as a CAS or COIN aircraft. High performance jets are costly to operate and maintain. Aircraft have limited lifespans and the more hours we put on F-16s and A-10s doing light work brings these aircraft closer to forced retirement.

Now as to why the AF won’t consider the AT-6 is a mystery to me. The Air National Guard has been testing these aircraft at the Goldwater Range and the pilots I’ve talked to seemed very optimistic about the aircraft. From several performance aspects that are important to the mission like endurance, wing loading and power loading–the AT-6 outperforms the Super Tucano. It also carries the A-10C mission system and is highly parts compatible with the T-6 of which the Air Force has over 400. I’m not saying the USAF is wrong, but an explanation would be nice.

ReaganWasRight on January 7, 2012 at 12:08 PM

I just want to throw a few comments in about the Super Tucano. I have been working in Colombia for quite a few years now and had some doubts when the government here chose to buy the Embraer…after all Chavez was buying the latest Russian jets.But these things have been amazing for the Colombian Air Force…they are bflying death warrants for the FARC and are a big reason why they are on the run. It is really undeniable that this is an excellent aircraft for this kind of operation. I say this as a Canadian who hold a lot of animus against Embraer, which (as a Brazilian gov’t entity) built up its market by breaking every possible trade treaty and norm possible at the expense of Canadian manufacturers (that is why Brazil lost its case at the WTO). Given their history and lack of scruples, it is very possible that the accusations of corrupt practices are well based. But this cannot detract from the fact that their aircraft is great.

Blaise on January 7, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Dunno about aircraft but Sierra Nevada does make a damn fine beer or two…

affenhauer on January 7, 2012 at 12:12 PM

The Greatest Genius Aerodynamicist of our time is Burt Rutan. He had a design for a lightweight fighter-interceptor and light attack aircraft that should be considered, along with several other radical ideas.

It’s not the corp but the individual, the John Galts of out time, that get things done.

Bulletchaser on January 7, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Embraer … is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That Act prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials or making other illegal payments to gain or retain business.

These “qualifications” make Embraer uniquely qualified to do business with BO’s administration.

climbnjump on January 7, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Kansas is too White.

Bulletchaser on January 7, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Why would anyone build attack aircraft for the USA? After all, since His Most Holy, the Savior of the Oceans and Messiah to Man became His Exalted Excellency, the entire world loves the USA, and peace reigns. :)

lonestar1 on January 7, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Old story – The Shah of Iran bought a fleet of F-14s for his Air Force. When the Shah fell our people simply disabled the fleet. I imagine the same thing could happen to the Saudis f-15s if they turn on us. Who knows what is in all those complex avionic systems?

SC.Charlie on January 7, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I don’t know that our guys disabled them so much as just stopped shipping them replacement parts, though, with a lot of high performance aircraft, it probably amounts to the same thing.

Count to 10 on January 7, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Mighty comforting to know that Obama wants us to buy the finest military equipment South American banana republics have to offer. Maybe we should pick up some surplus MIG-15s to round out the package. Seriously, American/Canadian new tech versus Brazil’s same old same old. Is there really a question here.

LarryinLA on January 7, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Go Tucano.

You need to do some thorough research on these subjects Jazz. Today you failed miserably and you are misleading readers.

lexhamfox on January 7, 2012 at 12:51 PM

In fairness, America does have a long history of building really crappy airplanes, right?

vermin on January 7, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Did your high school teacher tell you that? It must be true then.

JellyToast on January 7, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I have no idea why they would need a slow, prop light attack aircraft, especially since they have the A-10. Additionally, Air Force brass types are usually hot for sleek, modern looks to fit with their image. They hated the A-10 until it’s performance squelched their complaints.

The whole thing sounds like they came up with a specification tailored to Brazil’s Embraer. Why we would even consider a foreign manufacturer is beyond me.

darwin on January 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

I believe most of these will be getting handed down to the Afghan military and cost and ease of maintenance is probably a factor. Other considerations are that this thing has a much longer loiter-time and lower stall speed than most jet aircraft.

The other problem with the A-10 is that Fairchild-Republic no longer exists and you’d be starting from scratch putting them back into production, and there’s no carrier-borne variant of it.

Walter Sobchak on January 7, 2012 at 1:02 PM

These people have no shame.

TimBuk3 on January 7, 2012 at 8:41 AM

Of course not. You have to have empathy and humility to have shame. Liberals generally have neither.

Theophile on January 7, 2012 at 1:05 PM

My understanding is that, while there may have been some initial internal interest that has since evaporated, these planes are to be purchased by the USAF for transfer to foreign operators, specifically (at least first out of the block) Afghanistan. The USAF already has Predators and Reapers to perform most (if not all) the missions this aircraft could fulfill. Beechcraft has been quite aggressive in promoting their plane, which is understandable granted their out-of-pocket investment, but in the process they’ve injected quite a bit of marketing hype (to which Jazz and others are apparently not immune). Given the significant possibility that whatever aircraft are handed over to Karzai are liable to become assets of the Taliban over coming years, I see little compelling reason to donate purely American-sourced assets to the cause.

Blacklake on January 7, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Who should build our next light attack aircraft? No one. There should be no new *manned* attack aircraft of any kind and arguably no new manned aircraft of any kind.

edshepp on January 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Why a turbo prop? Easy to maintain, cheaper to operate, great for the COIN mission, great loiter time and can carry sufficiant ordnance. Not since the OV-10 have we had that capability and we could use it now especially when we have clear air superiority. The Navy and Air Force use the T-6 as their primary aircaft to teach their people to fly so AF pilots would have minimal training time to qualify in an AT-6 since it’s based on the T-6, they would already know the A/C and would just have to train on the weapons system. Save lots of dollars. Don’t need a jet for every mission. Having said that, we should be building the plane not some other country.

major dad on January 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Embraer builds eeeeeevil corporate jets too. So that should have no bearing on it.

liberty0 on January 7, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Soros have stock?

J.E. Dyer on January 7, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Having said that, we should be building the plane not some other country.

major dad on January 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM

From what I understand the Super Tucano is going to be built in Florida, while the Beechcraft would have been built in Canada. I’m not cheerleading for the Tucano, I’m just saying the thing isn’t as evil as some seem to believe.

Walter Sobchak on January 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Did your high school teacher tell you that? It must be true then.

JellyToast on January 7, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Yep. It was on the same day we learned about sarcasm and why I should be nice to slow-witted people online.

vermin on January 7, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Walter Sobchak on January 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM

I believe the production line is supposed to be in Wichita, KS.

ReaganWasRight on January 7, 2012 at 2:08 PM

The Skunkworks has never shut down.

Solaratov on January 7, 2012 at 12:03 PM

It’s never been the same since Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich died. Lightning in a bottle.

CurtZHP on January 7, 2012 at 2:24 PM

So the Sierra Nevada Brewery is making planes now?

tpitman on January 7, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Yes. Dingy from Nevada vs. 2 GOP senators from Kansas. Also, Wichita ks home to Obama enemy number 1, the evil Mr. Charles Koch and Americans for Prosperity.

The whole thing stinks!

pcwichita on January 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM

A turboprop, really? So we’re not making jets any more? What’s next, a steam powered naval fleet?

HarryBackside on January 7, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Prop planes (early 1900s), choo-choos (1800s), windmills (1st century AD according to Wiki), it’s Barry’s ongoing attempt to bring us “Back to the Future!”

What’s next, a new-and-improved horse-and-buggy?

As for Hawker Beechcraft being kept out of the competition, who’s surprised? Kansas, does, after all, vote overwhelmingly red, and they like their guns and bibles…

Al_H on January 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Read the multiple explanations in this thread of why we’re pursuing a low and slow turboprop. It makes sense for the intended CAS role.

vermin on January 7, 2012 at 2:56 PM

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