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.