|Built with pride by IAM members in Wichita, KS, Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6 Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance aircraft supports more than 1,400 jobs across the U.S.|
The IAM was quick to welcome news that the U.S. Air Force was setting aside a $355 million contract award for a Brazilian company to build light-air support aircraft for use largely by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The initial contract announcement triggered a joint effort by the IAM and Hawker Beechcraft to urge the Air Force to reconsider the U.S.-built Hawker Beechcraft AT-6, which would sustain over 1,400 U.S. aerospace jobs, including those of hundreds of IAM members.
“Over the past year, our legislative department worked with Hawker to point out to Congress the benefits of the AT-6 and the problems with the way this contract was awarded,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez, who praised the AT-6 as a proven performer.
“The Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 has a long and fantastic record as one of the most capable, affordable, and interoperable light attack aircraft in the world today,” said Martinez in an editorial published in the Wichita Eagle. “Our members are rightly proud to produce this aircraft with skill and precision. The IAM believes that the AT-6 is an excellent value and is more than competitive with any airplane in the world, if we are given a fair chance to compete.”
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said the Air Force was setting the contract aside and opening an investigation into the bidding process. “While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action,” said Donley. “Since the acquisition is still in litigation, I can only say that the Air Force Senior Acquisition Executive, David Van Buren, is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision.”
While the Air Force raised serious concerns over the bidding process that resulted in the award to a Brazilian aerospace firm, it has yet to announce guidelines for a new competition for the contract.
“While the aviation industry digs out of the hole caused by Wall Street, it shouldn’t get gut-punched by unfair procurement procedures by our own government,” said Martinez. “Let’s hope the Air Force moves quickly to relaunch the competition and this time makes the right decision by awarding the contract to Hawker Beechcraft.”