$950 Million

— The ceiling cost of a Pentagon contract awarded Wednesday to provide the fledgling Afghan air force with 20 Light Air Support Aircraft. The initial $427 million award to Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev., and its Brazilian partner, Embraer SA, will buy the planes and “one computer based trainer, one basic aviation training device, one flight training device, six mission planning stations, six mission debrief systems, long lead spares for interim contractor support, outside the continental United States base activation, site surveys, flight certification to U.S. Air Force military type certification standards, and data.” The turbo-prop aircraft are part of the Pentagon’s plan to leave Afghanistan with sufficient force to battle the Taliban after U.S. combat troops pull out by the end of 2014. Beechcraft was the losing bidder.
Embraer Corp.

Not World War II-era P-51 Mustangs, but A-29 Super Tuscanos bound for Afghanistan.

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Here's taxpayer $$$ money to a country that won't even let our advisers stay after 2014. Good place for DOD to start across the board cuts.


And now, the rest of the story.

DOD Buzz, Feb 28, 2013
It took an extra year and left the Air Force’s acquisition team with egg on its face, but Sierra Nevada Corp. still ended up with the $427 million contract to provide 20 light support planes to the Afghan air force.

The Air Force had to cancel the initial contract in 2011 awarded to Sierra Nevada Corp. after Beechcraft Corp. protested the award. Following the protest, the Air Force discovered mistakes made in the paper work throughout the acquisition process forcing the Pentagon to re-open the competition.

Because of the mistakes made by the Air Force, the contract for the 20 planes will cost U.S. taxpayers an extra $72 million and the first ones will not start arriving to Afghanistan until 2015. The original contract awarded in 2011 was for $355 million and set to have planes delivered by 2014.

Unlike the situation in Iraq, the U.S. Air Force had to stand the Afghan air force up from scratch. Many of the pilots had not flown for years since the Soviets still controlled the country.

The goal of buying the Brazilian-made Super Tucanos was to offer the Afghans a simple plane to operate and provide a light attack capability against the Taliban. However, the challenge to stand up the program gets harder with the possibility of U.S. Air Force trainers not standing along side the Afghans.

Wichita Eagle, Jan 24, 2013
“The LAS contract award is not delayed,” Major Maureen Schumann, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “The January date in the RFP (request for proposal) was an estimate from which to allow offerors to base their proposals. We are taking our time to ensure a deliberate, thorough process and expect a source selection decision in early calendar year 2013.

WSJ, Jul 24, 2012
U.S. Builds Afghan Air Base, but Where Are the Planes?

SHINDAND, Afghanistan—Shindand Air Base has an 8,000-foot runway, a gleaming new headquarters complex and a cadre of motivated Afghan pilot candidates. Because of the way Washington operates, however, it lacks warplanes.

The budding Afghan air force was supposed to receive $355 million worth of planes custom-made for fighting guerrillas well ahead of the U.S. withdrawal in 2014. Equipped with machine guns, missiles and bombs, those reliable, rugged turboprop aircraft are cheaper to operate and easier to maintain than fighter jets. All told, the U.S. has spent nearly $300 million on upgrading the Shindand facilities.


Shindand Air Base is in Herat, away over in the west near Iran, over 400 miles from Kabul and even further from the restive eastern provinces. Why base Afghan light air support aircraft here, at an expensively enlarged air base, the second largest in Afghanistan? I suspect that it has more to do with Iran than anything. It is flat terrain there, excellent for a gulf course.

The Shindand golf course is, shall we say, limited. Netting to protect the neighbors? Nope - Hesco barriers to protect the golfers.

Army Specialist Jon Lindemann prepares to tee off on the first tee at Shindand Air Base's Par 3, aka the "World's Most Dangerous Hole." This is one of three tee locations -- the hole can play 148, 125 or 106 yards.


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