The USAF Makes a Decision


11/20/2011 by Ed Timperlake

The headline in the Wichita Eagle says it all—“Hawker Beechcraft loses out on big Air Force contract”

Reporter  Dan Voorhis writing for The Wichita Eagle, (November 18 2011) points out that;

“Hawker Beechcraft Corp. says the Air Force has informed the company that it lost out on a military contract worth nearly $1billion.

“The company had hoped to win the Light Air Support contract with its AT-6, an armed version of its T-6 trainer. But on Friday, the company said it received a letter from the Air Force saying the AT-6 had been excluded from the competition. The company wants an explanation.”

The AT-6 Credit: Hawker Beechcraft

To clarify using Occam’s Razor that the simplest explanation may be the best before an orchestrated campaign to attack the integrity, professionalism, judgment and rational for a very wise USAF decision a simple point can be made. The opening principle of the request for entry into the selection process has the below first sentence in the RFP and everything that occurred may have followed:

“BACKGROUND AND REQUIREMENTS: LAS aircraft must be a non-developmental item (NDI) that is production-ready. No development or testing funds are available. ” Introduction of  LAS Solicitation FA8615-10-R-6088”

In response to the Air Force decision Hawker Beechcraft immediately issued what may go down in history as one of the worst press statement ever made.  Not only does the press release demonstrate why they were eliminated HBC may also find out, by their own words that any legal recourse for any protests are staggeringly bad.

“We have been notified by the United States Air Force in a letter that the Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from the Light Air Support competition. The letter provides no basis for the exclusion. We are both confounded and troubled by this decision, as we have been working closely with the Air Force for two years and, with our partners, have invested more than $100 million preparing to meet the Air Force’s specific requirements. Additionally, the AT-6 has been evaluated and proven capable through a multi-year, Congressionally-funded demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.  We have followed the Air Force’s guidance closely and, based on what we have seen, we continue to believe that we submitted the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft as measured against the Air Force’s Request for Proposal. We have requested a debriefing from the Air Force and will be exploring all potential options in the coming days.”

By their own words “We have followed the Air Force’s guidance closely….” HBC admits that they are to be measured by the terms of the RFP— see the initial RFP opening requirement stated above-they were not ready to compete and the AF called them on that fundamental point as the public evidence evolved to make that very clear.

Additionally, in making their defense and initiating a demand for an explanation they publicly state that they have spent $100 Mil in their continuing and ongoing effort to develop the AT-6 to compete in a non-developmental contest!—Priceless.  Physician heal thyself!

In a request to Embraer on how much they invested in preparing the Super Tucano for the flight testing part of the competition it was their estimate that it was under $50,000 to fly the aircraft to the test site, fly the test missions and then return to Brazil.  Since RFP paper work is constant among competitors the accurate ratio of $100 Million to $50,000 says it all. Additionally, the $100 mil was US taxpayer dollars, and the $50,000 was at the Super Tucano’s teams risk funding.

The AF evaluation team proves that “The Right Stuff” can be shown in all dimensions of creating a modern airpower combat team. From an office at Wright-Pat to eventually the combat skies over  Afghanistan our war effort to help the that country and quickly leave just took a turn for the good.