USAF Background Paper on Light Air Support (LAS) Contract

By Ed Timperlake

The USAF is circulating a paper on the Hill that clearly lays out for our readers, their judgement on the state of play of getting the planes to the troops.


This paper provides information on the LAS acquisition. Due to the ongoing litigation brought by Hawker Beechcraft Defense Corporation (HBDC), the United States Air Force (USAF) cannot release information regarding the LAS competition.

HBDC has extensive and detailed information regarding the USAF’s evaluation of their proposal that is contained in the issued evaluation notices (ENs). HBDC may, at their discretion, provide this information.


The LAS acquisition fulfills the CENTCOM requirement to establish an indigenous Afghan advanced training and combat flying capability by procuring twenty (20) non-developmental item (NDI) LAS aircraft, three (3) ground training devices, and three (3) years of interim contractor support (ICS)

  • Funded with U.S. Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) and managed through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process
  • Acquisition strategy used an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract vehicle to maximize synergy with potential customer requirements
  • LAS procurement conducted in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations

The USAF engaged in discussions with all offerors from 8 Apr 11 until 23 Sep 11 to ensure we had a clear understanding of their proposals, and all offerors had a clear understanding of the USAF’s requirements.

  • Offerors whose proposals did not meet the LAS requirements were provided ENs outlining proposal deficiencies and weaknesses
  • The ENs contain proprietary information and can only be released by the offeros
  • HBDC was removed from the competitive range on 1 Nov 2011
  • HBDC protested its exclusion from the competitive range with the Government Accountability Office (GAO case number B-406170) on 21 Nov 11
  • GAO dismissed HBDC’s  protest on 22 Dec 11.

On 22 December 2011 Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) was awarded firm-fixed price contract FA8637-12-D-6001 for $355,126,541 that includes:

  • 20 LAS Aircraft
  • 1 Lot OCONUS Interim Contractor Support Long Lead
  • 1 Lot OCONUS Interim Contractor Support Base Activation
  • 6 Mission Planning Stations
— 6 Mission Debrief Systems
— 1 Computer Based Trainer Ground Training Device
— 1 Flight Training Device Ground Training Device
  • 1 Lot LAS Flight Certification to USAF Military Type Certification Standards

LAS event timeline (items in italics are future events or events that have not occurred):

  • 29 Oct 10: Request for Proposals (RFP) released
  • 28  Dec  10:    Vendors’  proposals  received
  • 28 Jan 11: LAS System Demonstration completed
  • 22 Apr 11: DoD provided defense committees ASFF Financial and  Activity Plan for executing FY11 funds
  • 1 Nov 11: HBDC eliminated from competitive range
  • 21 Nov 11: HBDC protested its exclusion from the competitive range to the Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • 22 Dec 11: GAO dismissed HBDC protest as untimely
  • 22 Dec 11: Contract awarded to SNC
  • 27 Dec 11: HBDC filed suit against the USAF in U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking legal review of its elimination from the competition
  • 4 Jan 12: In light of the pending legal review, the USAF issued a stop work order for the LAS contract that was awarded to SNC

The USAF is confident in the merits of the contract award decision and anticipates the litigation will be quickly resolved

  • 6 Mar 12: All motions due to U.S. Court of Federal Claim
  • Apr 2013: LAS deliveries to Afghanistan begin (delays expected due to current litigations)


The USAF is confident about its contract award decision. The source selection process was deliberative, did not favor one offeror over another and followed strict statutory/administrative guidelines. Our goal remains to provide the Afghanistan government with an indigenous advanced  training  and  combat  capable  aircraft  to  facilitate  Afghanistan’s  internal  security   capability.




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One response to “USAF Background Paper on Light Air Support (LAS) Contract”

  1. Bill Kalman says:

    The AT-6 is not IN PRODUCTION. This is a key parameter, because of the time factor in war.

    HBDC had time to reply to questions (i.e., ENs) & change their proposal. The AF has to be careful not to “technically level” the playing field. Apparently HBDC answers showed the AT-6 could not meet the requirements without addtional TIME and $s – mail room mix-up aside!

    Was the $100M “investment” by HBDC really AF $s for AT-6 weapon testing at ANG Tuscon? Who paid for the ANG pilot hours, fuel, ANG facilities, ANG support, etc. – HBDC? Did HBDC try & become “technically level” w/ANG and/or HBDC R&D $s, but still came up short?

    I wonder how 156 Tucanos can be flown over 12 years if they’re “unsafe” to fly by 3rd world AFs? Have there been crashes?

    3 tries & 7 years for the Tanker buy is instructive in that “politics” can trump operationmal, technical & price factors. Is this the model we want to follow in war?

    HBDC ignores that by law a source selection cannot consider U.S. job creation or foreign subs. Congress can change this law, or perhaps they should just vote on who gets a contract?

    Since this is war, a sole source award was justified, but Central Command wanted a competion, despite the +2 years added. +2 years & $100M to make the AT-6 a winner. Ergo, HBDC had a good shot, but still came up short. Fairness?

    This “protesting” ignores TIME. We are getting out of Afghanistan in 2014. These A/C are supposed to start arriving APR 13…

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