Beechcraft To Protest Air Force Contract Award

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Airplane maker Beechcraft will formally protest an Air Force decision to award a high-stakes contract worth more than $427 million to a competitor.

Beechcraft, formerly Hawker Beechcraft, claimed Friday that an estimated 1,400 jobs in Kansas and other states are in jeopardy. The Machinists union is urging a reversal of the decision.

Sierra Nevada, based in Sparks, Nev., won the contract to build 20 light air support planes with Brazil-based Embraer in Jacksonville, Fla. The planes will be used in Afghanistan, and the contract could be worth as much as $1 billion, depending on future orders.

The competition for the award has been on for nearly three years and has been embroiled in legal challenges. Its loss deals a major blow to Beechcraft as it emerges from bankruptcy protection.