WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky said Tuesday it would not sue the U.S. military after the The Government Accountability Office dismissed his protest of the decision of the service of choose Textron’s Bell to build the future long-range assault aircraft.
THE FLRAA Competition pitted Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft against Sikorsky and Boeing Defiant X, which features coaxial rotor blades.
Sikorsky “has decided not to take any further legal action regarding [FLRAA] program,” a company statement read. “We are disappointed with the [GAO] decision and remain convinced that our [Defiant] Offer X represented both the best value for the taxpayer and the transformative technology our warfighters need to execute their complex missions.
Instead, Sikorsky will focus on the Army’s other future vertical lift pursuit, the future attack reconnaissance aircraft. Sikorsky takes on Bell in the FARA competition. Each company was selected in 2020 to build prototypes in a competition that will culminate in a flight demonstration phase that has now been delayed for several years beyond that. original plans to fly in 2023.
Flights of the prototypes are now expected to begin in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024 and end a year later, according to Army budget documents for fiscal year 2024. The delays are due to problems encountered by the Army with its turbine engine improvement programthe engine chosen for FARA.
The company will also continue its modernization of the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters which will remain in service for decades as well as “future technology critical to mission readiness for the United States and allied nations”, added Sikorsky’s press release.
Sikorsky filed a protest late last yearbut the GAO denied it on April 6.
“In dismissing the protest, the GAO concluded that the Army reasonably assessed Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable because Sikorsky had failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the [request for proposal]reads an April 6 office statement. “The GAO also denied Sikorsky’s various allegations regarding the acceptability of Bell’s proposal, including the assertion that the agency’s evaluation violated the terms of the tender or the law or applicable procurement regulations.”
The GAO determined that Sikorsky’s proposal was “technically unacceptable” for an award due to a failure to fully justify the subsystem design in the digital architecture.
The 38-page protest decision also revealed that Sikorsky’s offer price of $4.445 billion was about half of Bell’s offer price of $8.087 billion.
Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet said on an April 18 earnings call that the company believes it offers the best technology to meet FLRAA requirements at the best price.
“The technology that we can deliver as you would expect…we have the leverage, we have the ability, the wherewithal to deliver great pricing and great technology offerings to our customers, and we don’t at the expense of financial returns,” Taiclet said, adding that a significant amount of its offerings included efficiencies made possible through its digital and model-based yarn enhancements that “have dramatically improved our competitiveness in terms of costs”.
The deal for the next-generation helicopter is worth up to $1.3 billion and is expected to replace around 2,000 Black Hawk utility helicopters. The FLRAA will not serve as a 1-to-1 replacement for existing aircraft, but will take over the roles of the Black Hawk – long the Army’s workhorse for getting troops onto and around the battlefield – to the 2030 horizon.
The engineering and manufacturing development stage, as well as the low-rate production stage, could be worth around $7 billion in total.
If the military purchases the full line of aircraft over the life of the fleet, the program could be worth around $70 billion, including potential foreign military sales, the program’s general manager for aviation said. , Major-General Rob Barrie, during a Dec. 5 media roundtable following the selection of Bell by the army.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering ground warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.