Yet another shining example on this Tuesday of the USAF’s uncanny inability to make straightforward decisions or run even a small procurement program! After years of morphing the counter-insurgency focused light attack aircraft requirement into a various programs, the USAF finally awarded the LAAS portion (which could be the only requirement at this point, who knows?!?!) to the superior Embraer A-29 Super Tucano over the Hawker-Beechcraft AT-6. After a major appeal and general bitch session by Hawker-Beechcraft, the USAF has now put a stop to their decision and is planning a full investigation of an apparently suspect procurement process! This investigation will cost time and money, most likely lots of time and money.
Meanwhile, we are trying to get the hell out of Afghanistan and they have almost no indigenous air support of their own. The LAAS contract would have given them a rudimentary and affordable precision attack and surveillance capability of their own, so that we would not have to provide it for them with much more expensive F-16s, Harriers, Apaches etc. Lovely prioritization here for USAF right?!?! Keep in mind this is just for a handful of turboprop light attack and surveillance planes for the Afghan military, not even for the USAF!
If every single procurement decision results in a full contractor appeal and requires a subsequent full investigation, than maybe the procurement process is totally corrupt and broken to begin with, so STOP USING SIMILAR PROCUREMENT PROCESSES! Or are big military contractors so powerful that they now get to dictate via legal action the Air Force’s own decisions regarding the weapons they buy? Something is very, very wrong here. Don’t take my word for it, look at USAF’s record over the last decade or so of long procurement evaluations, long contractor appeals, startling changes in their original decisions, and a littering of broken contracts and harsh penalties left in the aftermath. God forbid we ever get into a war where we need hardware fast, could you imagine that legal and corruption mess?
I am at a loss for words…