The Air Force will choose a winner in its troubled Light Air Support competition without actually flying the two contending planes, the Embraer Super Tucano and the Hawker-Beechcraft AT-6, and it will even disregard what it has data from the limited “flight demonstration” it conducted last year.
That’s a disturbing departure from best practice in a program that has already been an agony for the Air Force, with the delivery of ground-attack planes to the fledgling Afghan air force now delayed by 15 months, enough to miss not one but two “fighting seasons” in Afghanistan. A chagrined Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has publicly pledged “we’ll work our asses off” to get it right. But according to Breaking Defense interviews with both corporate camps, the revised Request For Proposal released at 5:16 on Friday — the traditional time to bury awkward news — skips the important step of having the Air Force actually see how both planes fly before it makes its decision, tentatively due in January. Keep reading →