Leonardo will discontinue its pursuit of competing against Airbus Helicopters to supply the U.S. Army with helicopters. The manufacturer said in a statement that while it won’t stop pushing for competition, it doesn’t plan to take anyone to court again on this particular Lakota case.
“In light of the Appellate Court ruling, Leonardo Helicopters has decided to discontinue any further legal action regarding the sole-source award of trainer helicopters to the U.S, Army,” Leonardo said. “We nonetheless continue to believe that strong competition for government programs is in the best interests of our warfighters, American taxpayers and the U.S. defense industrial base. Of course, we are disappointed that there was no competition in this case.”
In late January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with Airbus, overturning a previous Leonardo victory from a 2016 Court of Federal Claims decision. The new ruling gave the Army the go-ahead to sole-source helicopters from Airbus — the Army outlined its interest in procuring up to 35 EC-145s with a source sought at the beginning of January.
In 2014, Leonardo challenged the Army’s ability to sole source 16 more UH-72As. The manufacturer had lost out on the original 2006 Light Utility Helicopter program and wanted another chance to bid. A court ruled in favor of Leonardo, making it so the Army would have to hold an open competition or submit more documentation to sole-source from Airbus.
Airbus has been vocal throughout what it calls a “two-year-saga,” calling the lawsuit “wasteful” and accusing Leonardo of attempting to take business from Airbus by “holding Army readiness hostage.”
Following the publication of the sources sought, Airbus said it “certainly” planned to respond. The sources sought encouraged responses within seven days.