The US Air Force has delayed the award of the Bell Helicopter UH-1N replacement contract until the fourth quarter of 2018.

The service had expected to award the contract in the third quarter of fiscal 2018 but a pre-award protest over control of particular intellectual property rights filed with the Government Accountability Office by Sikorsky delayed the final decision, the USAF said. It was announced on 22 May that the Lockheed Martin subsidiary lost its appeal to the GAO.

Bell UH-1N Huey ICBM security mission. US Air Forc

Sikorsky is bidding its HH-60U Black Hawk against the MH-139, a militarized version of the commercial AgustaWestland AW139 put forth by a joint bid from Boeing and Leonardo, and the Force Hawk, an upgraded UH-60L Black Hawk created by Sierra Nevada Corp.

The UH-1N replacement program aims to replace the current fleet of USAF’s UH-1N helicopters, which support the service’s nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. The USAF plans to purchase 84 helicopters.