WASHINGTON, Feb 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force must quickly redo a competition for 20 airplanes for the Afghan air force to since funds for the program expire at the end of fiscal year 2013, the top Air Force general said on Wednesday.
Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said the Air Force decided to cancel a contract award for planes built by Brazil's Embraer SA after discovering substandard documentation for the decision while preparing for a lawsuit filed by competitor Hawker Beechcraft Inc.
He said the investigation was ongoing, but "there will be hell to pay" should it become clear that the issue is a deliberate attempt to steer the work to privately held Sierra Nevada Corp, the prime contractor for the Embraer plane.
Schwartz acknowledged the issue was an embarrassment for the Air Force, which struggled with acquisition problems over the last decade. If the Air Force "fumbled" the acquisition, it would be a "profound disappointment," he said.