* Deal would prejudge Air Force analysis of alternatives
* Would harm U.S. firm Hawker-Beechcraft
WASHINGTON Nov 10 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)