WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday canceled a $355 million contract for a light-attack aircraft for the Afghan military that had left Hawker Beechcraft Corp. out in the cold.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday canceled a $355 million contract for a light-attack aircraft for the Afghan military that had left Hawker Beechcraft Corp. out in the cold.

Hawker Beechcraft, which has an aircraft completion plant at the Little Rock airport, has filed a legal challenge against a decision to exclude the company from a competition to supply the Air Force with light air support aircraft.

The Pentagon in December awarded the contract to Sierra Nevada Corp., of Sparks, Nev., for 20 Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucanos. Embraer, a Brazilian company, intends to manufacture the aircraft in the United States.

The Air Force issued a short statement Tuesday morning announcing the decision to cancel the contract. Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley was asked about the decision during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.

“The documentation for the service selection was not what it should have been. Certainly, we are disappointed,” Donley said. “We need to go back and take corrective action and we are in the process of doing that.”

Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, a member of the committee, said he agreed with the Air Force decision, which opens the door for Beechcraft.

“I will be very interested in reviewing the findings of the investigation because we must spend precious taxpayer dollars wisely and do what is best for our national security. Also, the Air Force’s reversal could potentially mean new jobs for Central Arkansas,” Griffin said.

In January, officials from Hawker Beechcraft-partner CAE-USA said they would have hired 25 new employees for their Sherwood, Ark., office had they won the LAS contact, Griffin said.

Gen. Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, has also initiated a Commander Directed Investigation into the awarding of the contract.

Bill Boisture, chairman of Hawker Beechcraft, commended the Air Force decision and said the company looks forward to competing for the contract.

“We continue to believe the American manufactured AT-6 is the right aircraft for this critical United States mission,” he said.