by Bill Carey
Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) on September 25 rolled out the first American-assembled A-29 Super Tucano for the U.S. Air Force’s Light Air Support (LAS) program. The single-engine turboprop will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military.
The Air Force awarded Embraer and U.S. partner SNC a $427 million contract to supply 20 Super Tucanos, ground-based training devices, pilot and maintenance training and logistical support in February 2013. Losing contractor Beechcraft twice protested the contract award, which the service first made to Embraer and SNC in December 2011.
Embraer Defense and Security opened a 40,000-sq-ft hangar facility at Jacksonville International Airport in Florida to assemble A-29s manufactured in Brazil. The facility performs pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing and flight testing. Embraer said it has hired 72 employees thus far.
At the roll-out ceremony in Jacksonville, Air Force Brig. Gen. Eric Fick said air advisor training for the LAS program will be conducted at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Ga.