By Staff Writer | April 1, 2007
The U.S. Air Force has asked the General Accountability Office (GAO) to reconsider its Feb. 26 decision sustaining protests by Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft against the Combat Search-and-Rescue-X (CSAR-X) contract the service awarded to Boeing and its HH-47.
The GAO on March 9 told the Air Force that decision was based on only one of more than 20 points raised by the protesters, all of which have yet to be reviewed but could be if the Air Force doesn’t re-bid the contract to replace its roughly 100 Sikorsky HH-60G CSAR Pave Hawks. Lockheed Martin bid a version of the EH101 with AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter. Sikorsky bid a variant of its S-92.
The service wants all the points reviewed now. Replacing the Pave Hawks, which are underpowered, overloaded, and costly to maintain, is one of USAF’s top priorities. The Air Force has until late May to respond to the GAO re-bid recommendation.
As a part of its ruling sustaining the protests, the GAO said the Air Force’s method of calculating life-cycle costs among the three CSAR-X contenders wasn’t the one it outlined in its request for proposals. Specifically, the service used a standard cost, $591.4 million, to estimate the labor needed to support the new aircraft through their planned service lives. That didn’t sufficiently consider variations among the contenders, which differ significantly in size and design.
Further, the labor estimate was based on the cost of supporting the USAF’s current HH-60Gs, whose maintenance hours per flight hour is double or more the requirement specified by the service for the new CSAR aircraft, the GAO said.
Lockheed Martin’s delays in the VH-71 U.S. presidential helicopter program was one reason the Air Force cited for not picking that company, according to the GAO. The VH-71 also is based on the EH101.