Hawker win is key to 800 jobs in Wichita

-- April 03--Hawker Beechcraft is competing with Brazil-based Embraer for a U.S. Air Force Light Air Support contract. The company has put its AT-6 light attack and surveillance aircraft up against Embraer's Super Tucano military...

Embraer projects a global market for 300 counter-insurgency aircraft over the next 10 years.

All Latin American operators except Chile use Super Tucanos primarily in combat roles, Padilha told the magazine.

The competition has gained attention in the wake of an Air Force award of an aerial refueling contract to Boeing over European rival EADS, from those who question giving a contract to produce sensitive defense equipment to a foreign company.

Officials from the Center for Individual Freedom wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates with the concern.

"American jobs, and ultimately American security, are at stake," said the letter, signed by CFIF president Jeffrey Mazzella and vice president for legal affairs Timothy Lee.

They point to a clause in Embraer's bylaws called the "Golden Share," which gives the Brazilian government veto rights to the "interruption of the supply of maintenance and replacement parts for military aircraft."

That's troubling, they say.

The Brazilian government could shut down the operation at any time, "leaving the United States no recourse on the matter," they said.

Christine Manna, an Embraer spokeswoman in Florida, said CFIF's "Golden Share" interpretation is incorrect.

"The Brazilian Government, through the Golden Share, cannot interrupt an ongoing contract entered into by Embraer," she said in an e-mail.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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