Sierra Nevada Corp., Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a maximum $15,000,000 contract to provide a comprehensive contract vehicle for the sustainment of A-29 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft in support of air combat capability for allied countries. The first task order will be awarded for the sustainment of the Lebanon A-29 program. It is anticipated that the contract ceiling will increase as additional FMS requirements are received. Work will be performed in Centennial, Colorado, and the country of Lebanon, and the first task order is expected to be complete by October 2021. This contract is the result of a sole-source acquisition due to international agreement. This contract involves 100% FMS to the country of Lebanon. The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.
The Pentagon first proposed to provide to Lebanon a contract for 10 EMB-314s in 2010. Six Tucanos with 2,000 advanced precision-kill weapon systems went to Lebanon via the US LAS program. Lebanese authorities were able to procure the aircraft through a $1 billion grant received from Saudi Arabia in 2014. The first two were delivered in October 2017, with four more in June 2018. The U.S. began a training program for Lebanese pilots at Moody Air Force Base in March 2017, and the second training class graduated in recent days. All six delivered in May 2018, Operating in the Lebanese Air Force 7th Squadron. Over the last decade, the U.S. government has invested more than $1.5 billion in training and equipment to support the Lebanese military, and trained over 32,000 troops.
A-29 Super Tucanos are built in Jacksonville, Florida in a partnership between Sierra Nevada Corporation and Brazil’s Embraer. The four aircraft delivered to Lebanon were modified by SNC in Centennial, Colorado, as part of a larger, more comprehensive package. The A-29B will be equipped with the 12.7mm (.50-caliber) M3M machine gun, LM 70/7-SF-M9 MK2 multiple launcher (70mm), MK81/82 bombs and GBU-12/GBU-58 laser-guided bombs. The Lebanese Air Force (LAF) will also likely equip the MK81 bomb with a guidance kit to “make it a smart bomb,” according to a military source. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) from BAE Systems delivered in May 2018 and supplied on the remaining four aircraft to the LAF.
The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a Brazilian turboprop light attack aircraft designed and built by Embraer as a development of the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano. In addition to its manufacture in Brazil, Embraer has set up a production line in the United States in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Corporation for the manufacture of A-29s to many export customers. The A-29 is a durable and flexible aircraft designed for counter-insurgency and close air support roles. The Super Tucano is relatively cheap to buy, fly and maintain, costing around $18 million each depending on configuration and about $1,000 per flying hour. It is powered by a variant of the world’s most popular turboprop engine – the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT 6 – rather than a jet.