By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

Just before the New Year, the U.S. Air Force finally selected a new Light Air Support plane for ground attack in counterinsurgency, picking the Brazilian Super Tucano over the American AT-6– whose manufacturer, Wichita, Kan.-based Hawker Beechcraft, is filing suit over the decision [update: leading the Air Force to issue a stop-work order on the 4th]. But just as important as what the Pentagon is buying is how many and for whom: just 20 aircraft, with an option for another 15, which will go not to equip regular U.S. Air Force units but to train the embryonic air force of Afghanistan.

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