BAMS protest watch begins

Lockheed Martin is scheduled today to hear why the US Navy selected the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N for the $1.1 billion Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract.

The debriefing starts a 10-day clock for Lockheed to decide whether to protest the decision. A few years ago, such a move would be considered a huge surprise. (Boeing, for example, didn’t protest Lockheed’s victory on JSF in 2001. In turn, Lockheed didn’t protest Boeing’s victory on the MMA contract in 2004.)

These days, however, anything seems to go.

Lockheed had teamed with General Atomics to offer a new version of the Predator B called the Mariner. The offer is completely different than Northrop’s proposal. The medium-altitude Mariner is a turboprop, which makes it slower but perhaps more agile than the turbofan-powered, high-altitude RQ-4N. Lockheed also decided to incorporate an off-the-shelf Israeli sensor, whereas Northrop’s proposal included an all-new active electronically scanned array (AESA).

Boeing teamed with Gulfstream to offer an optionally-manned G550 and with Raytheon to offer an only vaguely defined sensor package based on three AESA radars.

So far, Lockheed has only issued a terse, but vaguely threatening statement.

We are very disappointed with the U.S. Navy’s decision in the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program competition. We will wait for the formal customer debrief to better understand the decision and criteria used to select the prime contractor.

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2 Responses to BAMS protest watch begins

  1. Mike Plunkett 29 April, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    If I had to guess (and it is only a guess) then I’d say that Global Hawk won out over Mariner in terms of endurance and field of view (i.e. it can see more from 60k ft than Mariner could from 40k ft, assuming similar performance to a Reaper). I suspect that the need to come down to ‘low altitude’ may be a bit of a red herring – what exactly counts as low altitude? Are we talking about ducking below cloud cover to use the optical sensor here, or dropping right down to the deck like the manned MPA do now? If the former is the case then (in my thoroughly uninformed opinion!) this shouldn’t prove too much trouble for Global Hawk.

  2. Best Radar Detectors 22 July, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    Charity covers a multitude of sins.

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