Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft have again filed protests against the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to select a successor to its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search-and-rescue helicopters.
The companies succeeded in nixing the Air Force’s November 2006 selection of Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook as the basis for that new helicopter, persuading the U.S. General Accountability Office (which hears federal contract protests) that the service had wrongly calculated life-cycle costs. Lockheed, with AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter, proposed AgustaWestland’s EH101 and Sikorsky offered the S-92.
But life-cycle costs was the only one of a dozen or so complaints that the GAO said warranted overturning the Combat Search-and-Rescue-X (CSAR-X) award. That encouraged Air Force officials not to re-open the competition entirely, but to seek data supporting a recalculation of life-cycle costs. In June, they solicited new bids focused only on previously submitted life-cycle cost data. The protesters filed with the GAO against that, Lockheed on June 8 and Sikorsky on June 18. Their protests are sealed, but public statements indicate their argument is the new request is too narrow. "We are convinced that the Air Force did not provide a level playing field for a full, fair, and complete re-competition," Sikorsky said in a prepared statement.
"We understand the urgent need for new CSAR aircraft and believe that a broader reevaluation of bids, consistent with the GAO’s recommendation, will result in an outcome that would better serve our nation’s warfighters," Lockheed said.
The GAO has until Sept. 17 to rule on the Lockheed protest. The bidding is on hold until it rules.