By Staff Writer | June 1, 2007
U.S. Air Force officials will re-evaluate the life-cycle and manpower-support costs of the three contenders for its Combat Search-and-Rescue-X (CSAR-X) competition — and just those costs — in its efforts to re-award a contract for that helicopter.
In issuing a draft amendment May 14 to its disputed request for proposals for a next-generation CSAR helicopter to replace its aging, cramped, and underpowered Sikorsky Aircraft HH-60G Pave Hawks, the Air Force said it will roll revised cost data into the evaluations it did previously. Those evaluations led the service in November to pick Boeing’s CH-47 as the aircraft to replace the Pave Hawks.
The draft follows by 2.5 months a U.S. General Accountability Office ruling that the Air Force violated its own procedures in calculating life-cycle costs of the competing aircraft. The GAO upheld protests of that award by Sikorsky, which offered a variant of its S-92, and Lockheed Martin, whose team of AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter offered a version of the former’s EH101.
The protesters raised a host of other issues besides life-cycle costs, but the GAO ruled none of them warranted overturning the contract award. The Air Force’s statement seemed to indicate it is banking on that part of the GAO ruling as justification for a narrow reconsideration of the CSAR-X bids.
It remains to be seen whether Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and scourge of Air Force acquisitions who is reviewing CSAR-X, will accept that justification.
The service planned to meet with the three teams to discuss the draft amendment, then issue an actual amendment this month. It said it expects to receive their proposal information by September, and pick a winner by year’s end.
The USAF’s Views of CSAR-X Contenders
After flight evaluations of the current capabilities of aircraft offered for its Combat Search and Rescue-X competition, the U.S. Air Force assessed the final proposals of the team of Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland, and Bell Helicopter that proposed a version of the EH101, Sikorsky Aircraft and its S-92, and Boeing and its CH-47 variant. According to the U.S. General Accountability Office, the Air Force concluded as follows:
Lockheed Martin Sikorsky Boeing Block 0 Performance Acceptable/High Acceptable/Low Exceptional/Low Architecture/Software Acceptable/Moderate Acceptable/Moderate Acceptable/Moderate Systems Engineering Acceptable/Moderate Acceptable/Moderate Acceptable/Moderate Product Support Exceptional Low Exceptional Low Acceptable Management/Schedule Acceptable/Moderate Exceptional/Moderate Exceptional/Moderate Block 10 Performance Acceptable/Moderate Acceptable/Moderate Exceptional/Moderate Past Performance Little Confidence Satisfactory Confidence Satisfactory Confidence Most Probable Life Cycle Cost (billions) $35.85 $38.53 $38.89