July 23, 2014

US delays purchase of 20 light attack aircraft for Afghanistan

By Mirwais Adeel - Thu Jan 24, 7:41 pm

Light Attack Aircraft Afghan Air ForceAccording to US Air Force officials, a tender for the purchase of 20 light attack aircraft for the Afghan air force has been delayed.

The service was expected to award a contract for the Light Air Support (LAS) programme this January, Flight Global reported.

US Air Force said, “It’s still in source selection but we do anticipate making a decision and announcement in the next few months.”

The LAS effort aims to provide Afghanistan’s nascent air force with a fixed-wing strike capability. There are only two potential contractors.

Hawker Beechcraft is offering its AT-6 version of the Texan II turboprop trainer while Sierra Nevada and Embraer have teamed up to offer the A-29 Super Tucano.

The USAF had originally chosen the Super Tucano for the LAS tender at the end of 2011, but the programme was halted after Beechcraft filed a lawsuit.

During the activity surrounding the lawsuit, the USAF discovered that its internal contract documents were not in order. The service then terminated the existing LAS contract in March, 2012, and started afresh.

The LAS contract is expected to be worth about $355 million.

This comes as U.S. Air Force officials decided not to renew a contract with Alenia North America to support and induct the small, Italian-made C-27A transport aircraft into the Afghan Air Force.

The decision, provided by the Air Force via letter Dec. 18, was the latest in a string of disappointments for Italian Aerospace conglomerate Finmeccanica as it has sought to boost its U.S. business.

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