Lawmakers oppose US airplane deal with Brazil
* Deal would prejudge Air Force analysis of alternatives
* Would harm U.S. firm Hawker-Beechcraft
WASHINGTON Nov 10 (Reuters) - Two U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday said they had written to Defense Secretary Robert Gates to oppose any negotiations by the U.S. military to buy light attack planes from Brazil's Embraer (EMBR3.SA).
Senator Sam Brownback and Representative Todd Tiahrt, both of Kansas, asked Gates on a letter dated Nov. 9 to confirm whether the U.S. government had held or planned to hold any discussions with Brazil about buying or leasing at least 100 Super Tucano aircraft made by Embraer.
"We write to voice our strong and unequivocal objection to any such agreement," the lawmakers said in the letter, which they released in a statement.
They said such a deal would prejudge an ongoing Air Force analysis of alternative platforms that could perform a Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) mission, which could pave the way to begin funding such a program in fiscal 2011.
They said the U.S. military had already invested heavily in development of the Hawker-Beechcraft AT-6B built by privately held Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita, Kansas.
Not allowing the U.S. company to compete would draw "strong objections from Congress," they said.
The Senate and House had each passed legislation calling for a "full and open competition for the lease or purchase of light attack aircraft," they added.
Any such deal would also harm U.S. companies and workers, the lawmakers said.
"In this current aviation manufacturing crisis, it would be unconscionable for the department to take any steps towards procuring or leasing a foreign aircraft when a U.S.-made option is readily available for any competition that may result from the (analysis of alternatives)," they said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)