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Sierra Nevada sues over aircraft contract for Air Force

WICHITA, Kan. – Sierra Nevada Corp. is suing for the reinstatement of a $354 million contract to build light air-support aircraft for use in Afghanistan, after the Air Force canceled the deal following objections by a rival manufacturer and under pressure from lawmakers.

The Air Force canceled the high-stakes contract in March and launched an investigation after Hawker Beechcraft Corp. said it had been wrongly excluded from the bidding process.

Sierra Nevada sued for the contract’s reinstatement in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Tuesday, contending that the revised bid proposal was tilted in favor of Hawker Beechcraft. The contract could ultimately be worth nearly $1 billion.

Sparks-based Sierra Nevada also raised concerns that the new selection process eliminates any flight demonstration or evaluation, meaning the first opportunity the Air Force will have to test the aircraft will come after it has been purchased and produced.

Wichita, Kan.-based Hawker Beechcraft has not yet put into production the single-engine turboprop it proposes to build under the contract.

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