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June 13, 2012 6:29 am
A US company that partnered with Brazil’s Embraer in a competition to provide the US air force with attack aircraft is suing the Pentagon for cancelling the deal.
Sierra Nevada and Embraer won a contract last year to supply the air force with light attack aircraft. But the Pentagon cancelled the deal, and reopened the tender, after a lawsuit from Hawker Beechcraft, the losing bidder.
On Tuesday, Sierra Nevada said it had filed suit in US federal court to force the Pentagon to reinstate the $355m contract to supply 20 Super Tucano turboprop planes, accusing the air force of “tilting” the process in favour of a domestic US bid.
“Despite repeated written and verbal attempts, we have not received adequate explanation – much less justification – for the termination of our contract,” Sierra Nevada said.
The move ratchets up the stakes in a competition that has already led to tensions between Brazil and the US. Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, raised the controversy during a visit to the US earlier this year.
Among its complaints, Sierra Nevada said the earlier bidding process for the attack aircraft did not allow “developmental aircraft”, which adversely affected Hawker’s AT-6B because it was still a prototype. But the new tender process removed any requirement for flight demonstration or evaluations, undermining Embraer’s advantage.
Both the US air force and Hawker were unavailable for comment.
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