The Latest on AT-6 Vs Super Tucano: Time to Bow Out

By Ed Timperlake

A losing team continues to present losing arguments on so many different levels. As readers know, this Forum has been following the USAF LAS selection process very closely.  We take it very seriously because of the need to get the LAS aircraft into theater to aid our forces in responsible withdrawal.

The bottom line to date is that HBC seemingly with full knowledge of what they were doing, submitted a non-production ready, developmental aircraft that continued to expend government testing funds during the selection process. The terms of the LAS solicitation precluded all that from day one.

In spite of playing the game in a way which seems deliberately ignoring the RFP terms, they keep on coming.  They are now attempting to try the case in the court of public opinion in a very ugly way. To be fair and balanced, the uncontested facts are the Super Tucano  has without a doubt been validated by the market place, there are over 150 world wide many in combat, and  the USAF selection has been validated  by GAO. It has been established that the Super Tucano is the combat ready aircraft.

Anything else presented by HBC to quote the Bloody Red Baron is “rubbish.”

Now Second Line of Defense Forum has acquired a letter that is signed by HBC Chairman Bill Boisture trying to make a very public case about their situation. This letter has been widely circulate by Boisture.

In the interest of fairness Chairman Boisture’s letter can be found at the end of this article.

The reason for giving Chairman Boisture publicity is very simple: he seems to implicate himself in his own words with violating the integrity of the Source Selection process. Additionally, the points he makes are a further validation of the judgment and integrity of the US Air Force and GAO in determining that the AT-6 was an unqualified risk that they wisely chose not to select.

That proof of that point is simple: Does Chairman Boisture not think the AF and GAO know all the issues he is trying to make in his letter?  Yet they still determined that the AT-6 was not qualified.  He can’t possibly be insulting the intelligence of his customer and Congress any further but apparently that is what he is doing.

There are two evident problems with his letter and HBC’s Brazil bashing

The first is legal. Boister has written a self-incriminating  line that now must be investigated by AF OSI, DOD IG or FBI. He states clearly that  “The 314 costs over 25% more, and it does less in the mission environment than the U.S.-made Beechcraft AT-6.”

How does he know?

Either he is making up the 25%,, or someone has  committed a felony. The pricing of competitors in any source selection but especially for a potential Billion Dollar acquisition is one of the most sacred and protected facts.

Yet he asserts that the costs as of the 314 as being over 25% more. Again either you are making it up, or you have access to source selection data?

Taxpayers and businesses throughout the world must know that we play fair and by the rules. Consequently, the Chairman of a efense firm has called into question that this may not be the case. His statement should be immediately investigated to protect the integrity of the process.

Additionally, actions and words have consequences. This very public fight has the possibility of causing significant damage to US-Brazil relations and that would be most unfortunate.

Boeing is trying to win a multi-billion dollar contract to provide F/A-18s to Brazil. Amazingly, though they hired former Congressman Tiahrt who has recently been on national TV trying to torpedo any Super Tucano sales to America which is certainly an intriguing business model to support your global sales and interests.

But wait it gets better. HBC is owned by Onex, an Canadian private equity firm, and Goldman Sachs.  Investment Bankers traditionally have high SAT scores and go to the best schools. So they must know that Brazil just passed UK as the sixth largest economy in the world. Yet they allow a company they own to trash Brazil, in a vile and ugly manner.

At this moment it maybe fair to say there may be fast approaching a tipping point that cutting off access to Brazilian markets and products for Goldman and Onex Investment Banking deals can not be ruled out.

To quote Forrest Gump in Portuguese –Estúpido é como estúpido faz (stupid is as stupid does).

Maybe they will pull the lawsuit and let America get on with wining the war in Afghanistan. My daughter’s husband and father of my grandson has just been mobilized with the DC guard and is proceeding into combat as I type this article. I wish he already had a SuperT schwaking bad guys right now. It may be a game to some, but to me it is about supporting the American warfighter and his allies now.

“I am writing you to ask for your help.

The U.S. Air Force has made a fundamentally FLAWED DECISION to award the Light Air Support (LAS) contract to the Brazilian-made Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano. The 314 costs over 25% more, and it does less in the mission environment than the U.S.-made Beechcraft AT-6.

This is a billion dollar contract award starting with 20 aircraft, but giving the USAF authority to buy up to roughly 60 aircraft. The LAS contract is meant to support our nation’s Building Partner Capacity policy, which provides friendly nations the capability to defend themselves as our forces withdraw and to equip their own forces instead of deploying ours. The pilots in these friendly nations have trained in our country in the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II trainer operated by the USAF and U.S. Navy. The T-6 has been in service since 1999 with dependable, safe performance.

The U.S. Air Force has evaluated the Super Tucano before!! In the 1996 competition for the Joint Primary Aircraft Trainer (JPATS) Program, the USAF REJECTED the EMB 312 ON THE BASIS OF POOR AIRCRAFT HANDLING QUALITIES and decided to acquire the T-6 Texan II. In the current LAS acquisition process there was NO hands-on evaluation of the competitive aircraft. Had there been, the poor handling qualities of the Brazilian-made aircraft would have, once again, been readily apparent.

The U.S. Air Force IGNORED very significant factors while making the LAS contract decision:

1. The AT-6 predecessor, the T-6, is used to train every DOD fixed-wing pilot. Any Allied pilot training done in the U.S. is done in the T-6. THE AIRPLANE IS PROVEN IN OVER 1.8 MILLION FLYING HOURS OF RELIABLE SERVICE.

2. The AT-6 employs a mission system from the A10C Thunderbolt II aircraft that has been proven in every desert combat campaign, it employs the sensor system from the MC12W Liberty aircraft currently deployed in Afghanistan, and it has proven capability to accurately deliver a wide range of current U.S. and NATO precision and unguided munitions in Congressionally sponsored, Air National Guard funded tactical demonstrations. The U.S. TAXPAYERS HAVE ALREADY PAID ONCE for the development of all of these capabilities and they are integrated in the AT-6. WHY PAY A SECOND TIME FOR A MORE EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE?

3. The logistic support system for the AT-6 airframe and mission systems is in place and paid for today. Maintainer training, pilot training, technical manuals, parts stocks are all part of the U.S. DOD capability today! WHY TAKE THE RISK OF INTRODUCING ANOTHER AIRCRAFT (with no established U.S. support capability) AT A HIGHER COST WITH LESS COMBAT CAPABILITY?

4. THE USAF DECISION PROCESS DID NOT INCLUDE A HANDS-ON EVALUATION OF THE EMB314 FLIGHT HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS. This is important because in a previous competition in 1996, the POOR (UNSAFE) HANDLING QUALITIES of the EMB312 as evaluated by the USAF was a major factor in the decision to buy the T-6.

This is a difficult time in our country. Our economy is slowed and high quality manufacturing jobs are on the wane. Just last week, the President called on industry leaders to help rebuild the U.S. job base and in-source jobs back to America. The U.S. Air Force decision for the EMB 314 will result in the LOSS OF 1,400 U.S. JOBS. For Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita, 500 of those are engineering jobs and 300 are highly skilled aircraft manufacturing jobs. The tradeoff is 50 jobs in Florida to facilitate “U.S. delivery” of an aircraft manufactured by Brazilian labor and flown to the U.S.

It is fair to tell you that Embraer has a U.S. partner, Sierra Nevada Corporation, based in Nevada with the Congressional support that brings. This relationship allowed the bid to be entered as a U.S. company. If the parallels between the Boeing and Airbus competition on the U.S. Air Force tanker contractor are striking, they should be.

We have filed suit against the U.S. Government in the Federal Claims Court, and the judge has agreed to hear the case on its merits. In the face of this review, the U.S. Air Force has issued a stop work order on the LAS contract. That would seem to indicate the error of this decision might now be recognized, but we are not relying on this process.

If the U.S. Air Force decision to award this contract to a foreign aircraft does not make sense to you, I am writing you to ask for your help. It is very easy. Go to our website (We draw the line on any more free publicity-ed) and use the already prepared letters to let our leaders know what you want done. The site also supports writing your own letter if time and interest permits. LOOK OVER THE ENCLOSED MATERIALS AND SEE IF THIS U.S. AIR FORCE DECISION MAKES SENSE TO YOU AS A U.S. TAXPAYER. I guarantee it will not. If you agree, please pass this letter and the attachment on to your friends.

On behalf of our 6,000 people, I want to thank you for taking the time to get this decision objectively reviewed by our nation’s decision makers.


Bill Boisture
Chairman “



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One response to “The Latest on AT-6 Vs Super Tucano: Time to Bow Out”

  1. michael says:

    It occurs to me that if Mr. Bill Boisture put as much effort into running his company as he is in trying sway the American people, Congress and anyone who will listen that his aircraft is best for this mission,he might have been the winner. Didn’t turn out that way. Sorry, time to grow up. Do what’s wright for America. Drop the legal crap and move on.It’s time to think about our men and women in combat and help protect then as best we can. America, IT MATTERS.

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