Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky have welcomed a Congressional watchdog’s recommendation that the US Air Force re-open its 145-aircraft CSAR-X combat search-and-rescue competition, won by Boeing in November last year with the HH-47 Chinook.
In a rare decision, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) yesterday sustained protests by both Lockheed and Sikorsky, which had offered the US101 and HH-92 respectively. The US Air Force has yet to respond to the GAO’s recommendation that it request revised proposals from all three bidders.
Selection of the HH-47 (above) caused controversy because of its sheer size. But the GAO upheld the protests after finding the USAF’s evaluation of the bids on the basis of most probable life cycle cost “was inconsistent with the required approach as set forth in the solicitation”.
The HH-47 Chinook was a surprise choice to replace the USAF’s much smaller Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawks. Speaking at a conference earlier this month, US Air Force chief of staff Gen Michael Moseley said: “The HH-47 would not have been my choice, but we can make it work.”
The GAO recommends that the USAF amend the CSAR-X solicitation, reopen discussions with bidders and request revised proposals. If evaluation of the revised bids determines Boeing’s proposal is no longer the best value, its contact should be terminated, says the GAO.
A response from the US Air Force is expected later today.
“We look forward to learning how the Air Force intends to implement the GAO’s recommendations,” says Lockheed. “We are confident that, when fairly evaluated on its demonstrated capabilities, the US101 helicopter will be selected as the best choice and best value.”
“We are pleased that the GAO has sustained Sikorsky’s protest and are reviewing the GAO’s decision to determine the appropriate course of action,” says Sikorsky. “We have complete confidence that [the HH-92] is the best platform for the Air Force’s current and future needs.”
Boeing says it will review the GAO’s decision before deciding its next step. “We still believe the HH-47 is the most capable platform for the CSAR mission and provides the best value to the Air Force,” it says.