Beechcraft’s AT-6 v. Embraer’s Super Tucano A-29: the facts


FYI I have already been accused of writing this article in support of a foreign business entity which is in competition with an American business, however that is not the intent. The purpose is to present facts in a “fair and balanced” article and allow the reader to draw his/her own conclusion. Yes, I am prepared for blow-back.

Several days ago I ran into a flurry of outraged tweets complaining that Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6 light attack military plane was barred from bidding on a contract by the U.S Force and that the contract had been awarded to Brazilian aircraft company Embraer for its Super Tucano A-29. The contract would be for Light Air Support (LAS) for counter-insurgency in Afghanistan.

After doing some investigation I found the primary source of the “outrage” was this article in which the author does indeed state in the title the Obama administration “sends a weapon contract” to a country with ties to Iran, namely Brazil. Yes, it’s no secret Brazil and Iran are “friendly” but I don’t believe that is relevant to this article.

Being a frequent visitor to Brazil I know their presidents would be the first to shout to the high heavens their country was awarded such a prestigious contract. After all, current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was the first to announce last spring one of Obama’s primary reasons for his visit there was to buy oil from them. Knowing Brazilian papers would be at this point the best source for any news, I made the short hop via the internet which I believe has led me down the correct path. And according to the Brazilian website Poder Aereo (“air power”) no contract has yet been awarded and it probably won’t happen until the end of this year. [Note: all articles on this subject begin here. They are in portuguese and to read them in English one has to go to translate google].

The spokesman for the USAF, Jennifer Cassidy, told Aviation Week that “the Air Force remains in close contact with all offerors in the competition LAS. Because the selection is ongoing, we can not comment on the condition (status) of any of the proposals. We anticipate the award of the contract in late November / early December. We will have more information so that all bidders receive their reports (the “debriefing”) following the award of the contract.

Brazil’s Embraer (a compilation of empresa Brasil aeronautica, or “Brazilian aeronautical business”) small passenger planes have a long history of being a favorite of U.S. commercial airlines for their short-hop flights. Reliable, trustworthy and economical I have flown in them many times. Embraer also builds the Super Tucano A-29, a turbo-prop which is a light, military attack plane and they have sold many around the world including to Columbia. A Super Tucano was credited with killing FARC’s second-in-command leader Paul Reyes in 2008. Now they are in the running to take a contract from the U.S.

Below is testimony from CMR James Flatley USN (retired) discussing his experience with the Super Tucano A-29 and how it is combat-proven and mission ready. FYI the AT-6 is still in prototype stage:

And just in case one assumes this contract if awarded to Embraer, would mean jobs would be taken overseas, nothing could be further from the truth. The A-29 would be built in Jacksonville, Florida and would mean high-quality engineering and technical jobs. According to Chris Brayman:

When you compare the A-29 to the AT-6 you’re comparing a proven light attack aircraft to a prototype, modified trainer. There really is no comparison in the strength and the proof of these aircraft:

Poder Aereo’s chief writer who is also a former Brazilian air force pilot, tells us why the Hawker-Beechcraft fell short and he uses Flatley’s video plus his own diagrams and charts:

Tucano v Beechcraft picture

And below is a chart comparing the two aircraft:

Tucano v Beechcraft chart

Based on the chart above, I think it is fairly clear why Hawker Beechcraft was not allowed to bid on the contract. I am a firm believer that our military and those we protect deserve the best equipment and aircraft available. And if it happens to come from a company based in another country, then so be it. Beechcraft just needs to take the mantra of one prominent car rental company and not say “we try harder, but we MUST try harder.”

The final verdict is still out on this one. I’ll keep my eyes peeled and ears open.

Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks

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Deplorable Reagan Conservative. Pro-life, pro 2A. Waiting for Obama's "legacy" to be undone.

Twitter: @LadyImpactOhio

"We the People tell government what to do. It does not tell us."__Ronald Reagan in his farewell speech.
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Deplorable Reagan Conservative. Pro-life, pro 2A. Waiting for Obama's "legacy" to be undone. Twitter: @LadyImpactOhio "We the People tell government what to do. It does not tell us."__Ronald Reagan in his farewell speech.

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Lady Penguin
November 25, 2011 7:37 pm

small passenger planes have a long history of being a favorite of U.S. commercial airlines for their short-hop flights. Reliable, trustworthy and economical, I have flown in them many times. I’ve been following the internet conversation a little, LIO. Embraer indeed is highly thought of, there are even some Americans who have bought stock in the company because of their growth potential and quality. 🙂 That can be reevaluated if need be in the future, but in the meantime, the accusations of making it seem like they are in bed with the Iranians certainly seems over the top, and as… Read more »

civil truth
November 25, 2011 8:08 pm

This is just one example of the consequences of the corruption that Obama and crew have injected into our political structures – we assume that all the decisions coming down are politicized. Given past questionable actions of this administration that has given American money to Brazil (whose president historically has had communist sympathies), specifically Petrobras loan guarantees, my first reaction on reading this a few days ago was that this was another Obama directive to help rescue Brazil’s economy and prop up its government at the expense of American companies and jobs. However, the more I read from what seem… Read more »

November 25, 2011 11:00 pm

In 2005 I flew in a GOL small passenger jet between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The price was right and the ride was smooth. Do you suppose Gol got the jet from Embraers?

November 26, 2011 12:02 pm

It’s simple, it is just gross reverse bias operating here. Obama believes he is in the WH to right wrongs and favor those groups, nations, etc., whom he believes have not gotten a” piece of the pie.” If you are a third world or developing nation, you are high on the Bamster’s love list to score some largesse. Brazil, (communist)China, Malaysia, will do very well. OTOH, if you are not on the love list, look out there is hell to pay. Whom does Obama hate? Republicans. Israel. Texas. The Energy Industry.Fortune 500 Corporations. Great Britain. Think this is too simplistic?… Read more »

redneck hippie
November 26, 2011 12:51 pm

I heard a radio news headline that major airlines will be cutting out service to small cities in a major way due to the economy.

Consolidation continues apace.

November 26, 2011 1:46 pm

It would be interesting to see all of the designs submitted. If this is supposed to be a light attack plane for ground support I have to wonder if a US company submitted something similar to a turbo prop A-10. If I’m not mistaken the A-10 was designed for ground support, a role which it’s older brother the P-47 played well in WWII. I also seem to remember some company back about 15-20 years ago offering a turbo prop version of a “refined” P-51 for this purpose. I know I’m getting away from the main story here, but my point… Read more »

November 27, 2011 9:11 am

Good report, and good equalizer to the RS report, LIO. They jumped the gun a little bit. While I don’t rule out the cronyism Cactusjack suggest, it doesn’t mean the Brasilian aircraft isn’t better anyway. To the contrary, it seems it may be. When in doubt opt for merit everytime.