Beechcraft files suit over disputed Air Force contract

Beechcraft filed its protest with the GAO earlier this month, arguing that it gave the Air Force a cheaper bid and its AT-6 plane was rated “exceptional.”

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That protest had prompted work on the contract to be halted, but the Air Force told the winning bidders it could continue its construction last week.

Beechcraft reacted angrily to the news, accusing the Air Force of supporting foreign companies over U.S. entities.

“When it comes to producing aircraft that will help Americans come home from Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force today concluded that America’s ‘best interest’ now rests on the shoulders of Brazil,” the company said in a statement, in a reference to Embraer. “This decision is very misguided. It will lead to the loss of American jobs and substantially higher costs to American taxpayers.”

The Kansas congressional delegation has also jumped into the fight, asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to explain the rationale behind the award.

Embraer has rejected the claims that is hurting U.S. jobs, as the firm plans to build its A-29 Super Tucano planes in Jacksonville, Fla.

The lawsuit filed Thursday is the second from Beechcraft over this contract. After Embraer was awarded the contract in 2011, Beechcraft filed suit, saying it was unfairly disqualified.

The Air Force canceled the award last year, saying it had internal documentation problems, and restarted the bidding process.

But the Air Force awarded the contract to Embraer and Sierra Nevada once again last month.

The GAO will rule on Beechcraft’s protest within 90 days.