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U.S. eyes new pact for Afghan planes in 2013: source

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 13, 2012 2:55 PM
U.S. eyes new pact for Afghan planes in 2013: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force next week plans to issue draft revised rules for a competition to supply 20 light attack planes to Afghanistan, with an eye to awarding a contract in early 2013, a source familiar with an Air Force briefing told Reuters.

Air Force officials told congressional aides on Friday that an investigation had not found deliberate misconduct by government officials in awarding the previous contract to privately held Sierra Nevada Corp and Brazil's Embraer. The Air Force abruptly canceled that deal while preparing for a lawsuit filed by Hawker Beechcraft challenging the decision.

Air Force officials told congressional aides that the acquisition team that made the decision was inexperienced and failed to adhere to the acquisition process, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The Air Force now plans to issue some draft amendments to the previous competition rules, with industry reaction due on April 24 and final rules to be issued on April 30. The first planes would be delivered to Afghanistan about 18 months after the contract award, or around mid-2014, more than a year later than originally scheduled.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)