EP-X competition to enter second 2nd phase

A draft solicitation posted by the US Navy yesterday sets the stage for the second round of bidding for a contract to deliver about 20 Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s modified into electronic spy planes.

The USN intends to award multiple contracts worth a maximum of about $13 million each to get the second phase moving. The draft notice shows the USN wants very specific details about the aircraft, systems and modifications for each of the competitors.

The Boeing 737-800ERX, already in development for the USN as the P-8 multimission maritime aircraft, is a leading candidate for EPX. The Airbus A321 also falls in the eligible category. Brazil’s Embraer E190 also could have a shot, but it’s much smaller than its potential competitors. I also wonder if Lockheed Martin might try to dust off the Orion21 concept for EPX, but that’s pure, pie-in-the-sky speculation.

In the first round of the competition, the USN earlier this year awarded bids to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to basically define what the market could offer.

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