Sorry American Workers, More Gifts for Brazil – America Deserves Answers on the Obama Administration’s Decision to Outsource the Next Generation of Light Attack Aircraft

Kansas-based Hawker Beechcraft is going to court to get some answers from the US Air Force concerning its decision to disqualify Hawker’s AT-6 from competition to produce a new light attack aircraft for the US and allied militaries. The court case comes on the heels of the Government Accounting Office’s decision not to review the Air Force’s disqualification of Hawker
Beechcraft. Until the Air Force abruptly announced the disqualification in November, the AT-6 was considered by many to be the frontrunner in the Air Force’s Light Air Support program. The USAF so far has not explained its decision, which leaves just one competitor in the field, Embraer and its Super Tucano. That competitor carries significant and possibly disqualifying baggage in the form of connections to the Iranian government, and a new bribery investigation. Embraer is not only controlled by the Brazilian government, it is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That Act prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials or making other illegal payments to gain or retain business.

That investigation began in November 2011, and appears to still be in the early stages. Embraer is accused of engaging in bribery in three countries, none of which have been identified publicly. If found guilty, the company could be banned from doing any business with the US government at all. The SEC’s investigation of Embraer went public about three weeks before the Air Force disqualified Hawker Beechcraft without explanation.

Additionally, while outsourcing the contract to Embraer would create just 50 jobs in the United States, Hawker Beechcraft says the AT-6 would create about 1,400 jobs at 181 companies across 39 states.


  1. Akula says:

    The contract went to Embraer because the Super Tocano is simply the better aircraft. The AT-6 is an unproven prototype, and an adaptation of a trainer.

    The Tocano is a purpose built attack aircraft, and is considered the gold standard in the modern light attack role. It has higher landing gear clearance than the AT-6 (critical for rough field takeoffs and landings), longer endurance, better cockpit visibility, and internal mounts for machine guns (the AT-6 would have to mount guns on external hardpoints). It’s already proven itself in nearly a decade of combat.

    I’m skeptical about Beechcraft’s claims on the jobs numbers too. The Air Force is just licensing the design for the Super Tocano from Embraer. Embraer won’t actually be building them. All of the major components (engine, propeller, avionics, ejector seat, etc) are being built in America, and final assembly will be in America as well.

    This reeks of Beechcraft whining that they didn’t win, and trying to rile up protectionist sentiment to get their way.