An Open Letter to General Schwartz on the Light Air Support Aircraft

By Ed Timperlake

Please do not validate that the AT-6 was compliant when submitted for LAS Solicitation FA8615-10-R-6088” by allowing your investigators to focus exclusively on the end-game selection paperwork.

“There will be hell to pay” USAF Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz was recently quoted about possible results depending on what the “investigation” of the “smoking hole” debacle of trying to deliver a combat aircraft to the Afghan war effort.

This is more tough talk from a General who previously told industry:

“Don’t blow smoke up my ass” about what a platform can do and when it will be ready, said Schwartz, considered by many defense insiders as a contender to become the next Joint Chiefs chairman.

General Schwartz, with all due respect there is a cliché that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“There’s no time for it,” the Air Chief said to a nearly silent and tense ballroom. “There’s no patience for it. OK?” (The Hill, John T. Bennett – 02/09/11)

The current state of play in this international debacle while very nasty combat is raging in Afghanistan is to yet again delay support to all troops fighting and dying.

General Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command will investigate.

“Air Force to Axe Super Tucano, Investigate Choice Of Brazilian Plane For Afghanistan”, by Sydney J. Freeberg, Jr.

General Schwartz, with all due respect there is a cliché that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

In order not to be seen as anything other than a fair and complete investigation the CG Material Command must start his investigation by addressing the first sentence in the RFP.  If you begin at that point the “investigation” can be completed immediately: a simple yes or no will resolve that.

“BACKGROUND AND REQUIREMENTS: LAS aircraft must be a non-developmental item (NDI) that is production-ready. No development or testing funds are available. ” Introduction of LAS Solicitation FA8615-10-R-6088”

Was the AT-6 compliant when submitted into the LAS Solicitation?  Yes or No.

If no, then the AT-6 is legally out and the Super Tucano can fly into combat as fast as possible.

Investigating the end-game paper work of “who shot Willy” process will be seen as the AF “blowing smoke” because it will validate Hawker’s apparent “fake it until you make it” corporate strategy.

Aviation Week reporting tells us the AT-6 was non-compliant because HBC actually bragged about USG testing and weapons qualification trials 9 months AFTER they submitted their proposal into a non-developmental, production ready, no USG funds allowed source selection.

You have earned the right as a decorated AF leader to use the word “hell.” So has Congressman Allen West “I will walk through hell with a gas can to save my men.”

So start with a simple on the record yes or no and end this foolish charade immediately.

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One response to “An Open Letter to General Schwartz on the Light Air Support Aircraft”

  1. William G. Kalman says:

    Leadership seems quick to blame the source selection team, hence the “investigation”, and the hard words from the Gen Schwartz (“somebody might get fired”). “Work their asses off” – Hasn’t the team haven’t been doing this? Hasn’t this process been going on since 2009? The AF should be embarrassed, but not because they weren’t covered by “perfect” paperwork, so that the lawyers would feel law-suit-proof. I pity the poor AF acquisition folks. One lesson for them should be that you should avoid being involved in a source selection at all costs because you might be “investigated” because your “mistakes” weren’t “innocent”, or maybe you’ll get hauled up before an angry Congressional Committee, like on the tanker. “Work your asses off”, “help win the war”, but you better have perfect paperwork? Did the team design or oversee the source selection process? Will the Source Selection Authority or Executive get fired? Will another lesson be that all a losing bidder has to do is accuse you of wrong doing or unfairness and issue self serving statements (e. g., AT-6 is in production with 100s made). Never mind that your fault was “less than perfect paperwork”? Won’t this be impossible to achieve, because now a “lawsuit” ipso facto = “less than perfect”? Maybe the real problem here is that the source selection process just doesn’t allow the AF to speak the plain truth to Hawker – that their AT-6 isn’t in production and that the AT-6 isn’t as good? This isn’t a…

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