L3 Technologies has rebuffed claims that it wilfully misrepresented the AT-802L Longsword intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and light attack turboprop it has developed with Air Tractor so as to secure sales that would otherwise have gone to a competitor.
Speaking to Jane's ahead of the Paris Air Show, senior company representatives said that not only does L3 not operate in such a fashion generally, but that in the particular case of the proposed sale of 12 AT-802Ls to Kenya that has caused the issue with its competitor IOMAX to come to a head, that country's government actually asked for its platform "by name".
"All we can say is that L3 does not behave in that manner, and we act as a very ethical and upright company," Pat Penland, vice-president of Transport Programs at L3 Platform Integration, said in May, adding, "The Kenyans did ask for us specifically by name, requesting the L3-configured Air Tractor after conducting a market survey during which they visited our facility in Waco, Texas, and also Air Tractor. They looked at the aircraft and the programme, and then contacted the USAF [US Air Force] and initiated the FMS [Foreign Military Sales] case. The USAF then issued the request to L3 - there was no USAF selection process, they were just responding to a specific Kenyan request."
Penland's comments come on the back of investigations into the USD418 million proposed deal with Kenya (which also includes two AT-504 trainer turboprops) by the US Congressional Committee On Oversight And Government Reform (the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives) and by congressman Ted Budd, who represents the North Carolina-based IOMAX. IOMAX attests that L3 and Air Tractor have purposefully misrepresented their AT-802L to steal sales away from its similarly configured Archangel border patrol aircraft (BPA).
In a letter sent by its chairman Jason Chaffetz to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, the Committee On Oversight And Government Reform noted that it was "interested in learning more about the decision to award this contract despite evidence that L3 has no weaponised border patrol aircraft in service, and has limited past performance in manufacturing aircraft of this type".
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