Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2) today reiterated his support for a swift and fair resolution to a disputed U.S. Air Force contract originally awarded to Sparks-based Sierra Nevada Corporation and its Brazilian partner Embraer to supply 20 light air support (LAS) aircraft to Afghanistan. Sierra Nevada and Embraer said on Tuesday they are pressing ahead with a new bid for the contract. The Air Force issued an amended request for proposals (RFP) on Friday.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Amodei, along with Representatives Mike Coffman (CO-6), Ander Crenshaw (FL-4), Allen West (FL-22) said, "We could not stress more the need to award an LAS contract at the soonest possible point, and question the need for a new nine-month award process, when the Air Force just conducted a nearly year-long evaluation of the two competitor aircraft, resulting in an award. Any further delay unnecessarily increases risk to U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan."
The new RFP comes after a lawsuit filed by Hawker Beechcraft, which had previously lost out to Sierra Nevada. The contract is valued at $355 million and with extensions could be worth up to $1 billion. Hawker Beechcraft filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 3, but is still pursuing the RFP.
Proposals are due June 18. The Air Force now says it expects to announce the winner on January 10, 2013, with first delivery by the third quarter of 2014. The delayed schedule now means the fledgling Afghan air force will miss at least three critical fighting seasons at a time when NATO forces are drawing down and turning security over to the Afghan military.