Light Aircraft Support: The Choice Was Clear
By FRED GEORGE
Aviation Week & Space Technology
April 15, 2013 -- For a second time, W.W. “Bill” Boisture, the CEO of Beechcraft Corp. (formerly Hawker Beechcraft), is challenging the U.S. Air Force's decision to award a contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. to supply 20 Embraer A-29B Super Tucano aircraft for the Light Air Support (LAS) program for use by the Afghan military.
Boisture claims the Defense Department is spending significantly more for the A-29B than it would for Beechcraft's AT-6, its proposed LAS variant of the T-6 Texan II turboprop primary trainer. The T-6 is a well-proven platform, and the AT-6 shares about 80% of its parts.
I could see Boisture's point if lowest cost were the only criterion for awarding a contract and if the AT-6 and A-29B offered equivalent capabilities. But neither point is the case.
I have flown both aircraft and there are significant differences. The AT-6 is a trainer that has been adapted for the LAS role with a 1,600-shp engine, a beefed-up wing with hard points, plus twin external gun pods, an electro-optical/infrared camera sensor ball and a network-centric C2ISR communications suite, among other significant improvements. On paper, that gives the AT-6 virtually the same capabilities as the A-29B Super Tucano.
Walk around the two aircraft, though, and obvious differences emerge. Built from the ground up for the light attack role, the Brazilian contender is considerably larger than the Beechcraft. The relatively small five-blade propeller offers 5 in. more ground clearance than the AT-6's four-blade prop, and its oil cooler intake is much higher, for protection against foreign object damage. These features make the Super Tucano better suited to rough-field operations.
Aviation Partnership Reaping Benefits for America and Brazil
by Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank
May 15, 2013 -- Yesterday, as part of my infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Assistant Secretary Susan Kurland of the U.S. Department of Transportation and I took a tour of the facilities at Embraer -- a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Embraer is one example of a Brazilian company making substantial investments in the United States, and employs more than 1,000 U.S. workers to support its U.S. operations in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Melbourne, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Mesa, Arizona; and Windsor Locks, Connecticut. At the Commerce Department, one of the core components of our mission is to increase foreign investment in the United States, and Embraer continues to realize the benefits of choosing the U.S. as a place to do business. It was gratifying to hear from Embraer’s senior leadership about their plans for further investments in America, because of the United States’ strong aviation industry.
XXAs we toured the 190 Model Airplane with the company's CEO, Frederico Fleury Curado, I was impressed by the quality and innovation in Embraer's product. And, like many companies doing business with and in the United States, Embraer continues to develop strategic partnerships with U.S. companies that create jobs and advance new technologies. In fact, Embraer imports more than $2 billion in U.S. aircraft components into Brazil each year to support its operations. Embraer has built partnerships with American suppliers like Rockwell Collins and GE, as well as, companies like Rolls Royce and BAE, which have major manufacturing facilities in the U.S. These companies export from the U.S. to Embraer facilities in Brazil. These cross border supply chains demonstrate the ways in which the private sector is deepening commercial ties between our two nations.
Connecting U.S. companies with opportunities in Latin America is what this trade mission is all about. The 20 U.S. firms that are joining me on this infrastructure business development trade mission to Brazil, Colombia and Panama offer a broad range of products and services that enable them to serve as partners on the ambitious infrastructure modernization projects that all three countries are undertaking. Strengthening the connections between the U.S. private sector and Latin America is a win-win for all parties, and I look forward to the continued progress that will be realized as a result of our trip this week.
Matt Thurber, editor of aviation international news, takes the a-29 super tucano for a test flight
Aviation International News editor Matt Thurber took the A-29 Super Tucano for a test flight at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012.
Gen. Douglas Fraser USAF, Commander, United States Southern Command Interviewed By Tecnologia & Defesa (T&D)
T&D: "The Super Tucano has been used by many Air Forces in the surveillance and protection of the borders. As fighter pilot, what is your opinion regarding the use of these aircraft? Have you ever piloted a Super Tucano? What was your experience?"
General Fraser: "The Super Tucano is an excellent aircraft and it has many applications. It has been successfully used in Colombia against such groups as the FARC and by the Dominican Republic to reduce illicit air traffic. Embraer has also helped both of our countries to build important and mutually beneficial connections. Two-thirds of Embraer’s products come to the U.S., and two-thirds of their supplies and materials are from the U.S. These two facts show how Brazil has increasingly contributed to technological cooperation in our hemisphere. This is one of the areas that we intend to enhance, in cooperation with Brazil, as we work to strengthen even more our partnership in the years ahead. I had the opportunity to fly it last December and I was impressed. I noticed that the Super Tucano is a strong and agile fighter with great maneuverability and that responds quickly to commands. It has well-designed and refined controls and displays. I got adjusted to the good feeling and to its ease of flight. Despite not having a chance to do tactical maneuvers, I was quite impressed."
Letter From Rep. Allen B. West to Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force
February 29, 2012
Mayor Alvin Brown: We need military aircraft built here
by Alvin Brown, Mayor of Jacksonville, Fla.
Florida Times Union
February 21, 2012
Jacksonville has a long history of supporting the military and its national security role.
Jacksonville is a city of nearly a million people where one of every four residents is either on active duty, is serving in the reserves, or is a proud veteran. We are honored to host a military/veteran population of nearly 250,000 people in the Jacksonville community.
From the start, my administration has made military issues a top priority...
When the United States Air Force announced its selection of the A-29 Super Tucano for its Light Air Support Program, I proclaimed it to be great economic news for the City of Jacksonville.
This state-of-the-art light air support aircraft will be built here, initially creating 50 high-wage jobs and representing millions in economic investment.
I was extremely proud that Embraer, the plane’s manufacturer as part of the Sierra Nevada Corp. team, had selected our city for this important effort.
This plane will play an integral role in completing our counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan and in bringing our troops home safely and quickly…
Unfortunately, the investment that will happen here in Jacksonville is being held up by a lawsuit filed by the disqualified competitor for the Light Air Support contract.
The Government Accountability Office:
“After reviewing HBDC’s responses to issues raised during discussions, the Air Force concluded that HBDC had not adequately corrected deficiencies in its proposal. In this regard, the agency concluded that “multiple deficiencies and significant weaknesses found in HBDC’s proposal make it technically unacceptable and results in unacceptable mission capability risk.”
FLORIDA GOV. SCOTT COMMENDS TEAMWORK THAT RESULTED IN EMBRAER CONTRACT $355 MILLION AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURING DEAL SET TO BOOST JACKSONVILLE ECONOMY
12/31/2011 Tallahassee, FL – On the heels of a $355 million aircraft manufacturing contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force to Jacksonville-based Embraer and partner companies, Governor Rick Scott commended the team effort by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Senator Bill Nelson, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and other Florida officials, including members of the Florida Congressional Delegation, who all played key roles in landing the contract for Florida.
“This is an important deal for Florida’s economic future, and I’m particularly proud of Lt. Gov. Carroll’s leadership, alongside that of Senator Bill Nelson, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, and that of the Florida congressional delegation, all of whom worked hard on this deal for our state and community,” said Gov. Scott. “The Lieutenant Governor personally testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of Embraer, and her military aviation background and strong ties to the Jacksonville community played an important part in helping to seal this deal.”
Consistent with Gov. Scott’s plan to make Florida the number one state for doing business, Lt. Gov. Carroll has vigorously embraced her role as an economic ambassador for Florida.
In addition to leading two trade missions, Lt. Governor Carroll appeared before the United States International Trade Commission in Washington D.C. on September 28th, 2011, to testify at the “Business Jet Aircraft Industry: Structure and Factors Affecting Competitiveness” hearing. The Lt. Governor appeared in support of Embraer, an aircraft manufacturer that has their North American headquarters in Melbourne Florida.
The full text of the Lt. Governor’s remarks before the commission can be viewed here (PDF).
Additionally, Lt. Governor Carroll penned an op-ed encouraging Floridians to contact their member of Congress in support of the Embraer deal, and as a former Navy Lieutenant Commander and aircraft maintenance officer, she also appeared in a video extolling the advantages of Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano for the light attack role sought by the United States Air Force.
MAYOR BROWN ANNOUNCES EMBRAER AIRPLANE CONTRACT
December 30, 2011
Major Achievement Follows Visit to Brazil, Meeting with Air Force Secretary
Two months ago, Mayor Alvin Brown joined Governor Rick Scott on an economic development trip to Brazil, met with top executives from Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, and urged them to make Jacksonville a hub for their assembly of the Super Tucano light attack aircraft.
Just a few weeks ago, Mayor Brown traveled to Washington, met with U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, and advocated for Jacksonville.
This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it awarded a $355 million contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. As part of that contract, Embraer will assemble Super Tacano planes for U.S. military use. Embraer has committed to assemble aircraft at Jacksonville International Airport. The project will initially create 50 high wage jobs and represents millions in economic investment.
“This is great economic news for Jacksonville,” said Mayor Brown. “The award reaffirms that Jacksonville is the most military and business friendly city in the United States.”
Mayor Brown credited the broad coalition of public and private sector partners which joined forces to make this achievement possible. “This announcement is yet another example of what we can accomplish when we work together,” said Mayor Brown. “Today’s success was a real team effort.”
Brown specifically mentioned the local efforts of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, JAX Chamber, and JAX USA Partnership led by President Jerry Mallot. At the state level, he praised Governor Scott, Enterprise Florida, and Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson as relentless advocates for this achievement. From a federal perspective, Brown praised the work of U.S. Senators Nelson and Rubio and U.S. Representatives Crenshaw, Brown, Mica, and Stearns to make this day possible.
Brown pledged to work closely with Embraer to make its aircraft assembly efforts a success. “I have developed a great working relationship with U.S. Embraer President Gary Spulak and his team, and look forward to our doing whatever the City can to be a good partner in this critical initiative for our armed forces and our economy.”
NEW AIRFRAME ADDS STRIKE CAPABILITY TO AFGHAN AIR FORCE
January 11, 2012
AFGHANISTAN - In Afghanistan’s continued effort to independently battle counterinsurgency, a new tool will be added to their arsenal designed to allow versatility, reconnaissance and precision weapons placement to the growing Afghan air force.
Announced Dec. 30, the U.S. Air Force has approved a contract worth more than $350 million that will provide the Afghan air force with at least 20 A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft, ground training devices and all associated maintenance and support equipment originally slated to arrive mid-to-late 2013.