GAO Confirms Embraer Afghan Contract Win

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The fat lady has sung, and the long journey of the Embraer's (NYSE: ERJ  ) Super Tucano prop-driven fighter plane from bid to approval has ended. (Embraer won.)

On Thursday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied Beechcraft Corporation's protest of a U.S. Air Force contract awarding the Light Air Support contract to Sierra Nevada Corporation and its partner Embraer. This decision followed on an April 19 federal court ruling that similarly sided with the USAF, and against Beechcraft, and appears to have finally exhausted Beechcraft's options for delaying execution of the contract.

Taking the lead for the partnership with a statement commenting on the GAO's decision, Sierra Nevada explained that the team will now begin "supplying 20 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft that will be built in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as ground-based training equipment, pilot and maintenance training, and logistical support. Delivery of the initial aircraft is scheduled to occur in mid-2014, which allows time for the necessary training before the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan."

The Super Tucano's are destined to become the backbone of Afghanistan's new air force, and will be the first real combat planes to enter service there under Afghan control.

Sierra Nevada Vice President of Integrated Tactical Solutions Taco Gilbert called the GAO's decision "a win for the American warfighters and our allies in Afghanistan who urgently need this light air support capacity to fulfill our mission there."

Beechcraft had a different take: "It is deeply distressing that the Air Force selected a more expensive, less capable, foreign-manufactured airplane with weapons and systems unfamiliar to, and outside the control of, the United States military."

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