Update: Air Tractor files fresh bid protest over US Air Force light attack procurement | Jane's 360
- Air Tractor is protesting the US Air Force's light attack aircraft acquisition
- The company is contesting how Textron Aviation's AT-6B Wolverine became a sole source solution for datalink experimentation
Air Tractor is protesting the US Air Force's (USAF's) light attack aircraft procurement over the determination that lead to the Textron Aviation AT-6B Wolverine becoming a sole source solution for experimentation on a datalink solution, according to an industry source.
This industry source told Jane's on 21 November that the Light Attack Experiment (LAE) was never intended to be an acquisition event. The source said countless statements by USAF Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, former secretary Heather Wilson, and other service leadership confirmed that.
Air Tractor and its L3 Technologies-Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword aircraft participated in the first phase of the LAE in 2017 but was not invited to participate in the second phase. The USAF announced on 25 October that it was to buy a "limited number" of turboprop aircraft to satisfy the current phase of its LAE. It issued final requests for proposals (RFP) for between two to three Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC)-Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos and two to three Textron Aviation AT-6B Wolverines for this further experimentation.
The industry source said the acquisition of three AT-6B Wolverines was intended to continue experimentation. The exact nature of that experimentation, the source said, has yet to be solidified by any public notice. The industry source said Gen Goldfein and others have said this experimentation is to develop AEROnet, a datalink capability being developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).