Apr. 17, 2012 By MARCUS WEISGERBER DefenseNews
On the day the U.S. Air Force restarted a competition to purchase a light strike aircraft for Afghan security forces, Sierra Nevada Corp. announced it has filed a motion asking a federal claims court to review the findings of a service investigation that ultimately voided a prior contract.
Sierra Nevada, which is partnered with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, was awarded a $355 million Air Force contract in December for 20 A-29 Super Tucano turboprops.
Kansas-based Hawker Beechcraft, which pitched an AT-6 aircraft, filed a lawsuit soon after the award and the Air Force eventually threw out the Light Air Support (LAS) contract, saying it would re-evaluate bids from the two competitors. The Air Force has said there were documentation issues with the previous award and has declined to elaborate.
The Air Force launched an investigation into the canceled contract award.
A new draft request for proposals (RfP) was released to Sierra Nevada and Hawker Beechcraft on April 17. The Air Force is not releasing the draft document publicly.
The service has previously said it would go through the solicitation’s changes with each contractor “line-by-line.”
A new contract award is now expected in early 2013. The winning contractor will be required to deliver the first aircraft to Afghanistan in the third quarter of 2014, a 15-month delay to the original contract.
The changes to the solicitation were the result of a “commander directed investigation” (CDI) by Gen. Donald Hoffman, the commander of Air Force Materiel Command.
“Part 1 of the CDI focused solely on the execution of the source selection processes and procedures in the original LAS contract,” the Air Force said in an April 13 statement. “Facts from Part 1, completed on April 5, were considered in the decision to amend the current RfP. The changes to the RfP will more clearly define the evaluation criteria and tighten the decision-making process.”
A new source selection team has been appointed to evaluate the proposals.
On April 16, Sierra Nevada filed a motion with the United States Court of Federal Claims asking for judicial review of the results of the Air Force investigation.
The “motion seeks court review of Part 1 of the CDI to allow the judge to have all the relevant facts available to make a fair and expeditious decision on the way forward in the lawsuit,” the company said in an April 17 statement.