The Government Accountability Office validated the Air Force’s decision to award the Light Air Support contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. and its partner Embraer Defense and Security on June 13 , denying a protest by rival contractor Beechcraft Defense Company.”The Air Force was confident that this best-value decision was well supported and that the offerors’ proposals were fully and fairly evaluated consistent with the solicitation criteria and is pleased with the GAO’s decision,” Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick said in a written statement. USAF awarded the Sierra/Embraer team a contract in February for 20 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft over Beechcraft’s AT-6. On March 8, Beechcraft lodged a complaint with the GAO challenging the Air Force’s assertion that the Super Tucano represents the best value. In April, a federal judge ruled that work could continue on the aircraft as the GAO considered the protest. SNC is on track to deliver the first two aircraft in September 2014, followed by “two aircraft per month until all 20 aircraft are complete,” said Gulick. “Today’s decision is a win for the American warfighters and our allies in Afghanistan who urgently need this light air support capacity to fulfill our mission there,” said a joint statement from Sierra Nevada and Embraer issued on June 13.
Americans’ trust and confidence in the U.S. military has declined precipitously in recent months, according to the results of a survey. Experts lay the blame on increasing political polarization and the fallout from this summer’s turbulent withdrawal from Afghanistan.