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Raytheon files protest against JSTARS radar decision

Raytheon is challenging the US Air Force's decision to exclude the Archimedes radar from participating in the competition to replace the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS fleet.

Last year, Raytheon’s derivative of the APS-154 Advanced Airborne Sensor developed for the US Navy’s Boeing P-8A Poseidon faced off against Northrop's alternative for the JSTARS' wide area, ground surveillance mission.

The service issued two contracts worth $60 million and $70 million for Raytheon and Northrop to perform radar risk reduction work.

Although the USAF has yet to officially select Northrop’s radar, the service notified Raytheon that Archimedes was no longer under consideration. Raytheon filed the protest with the US Government Accountability Office on 20 November.

“Our radar solution for the JSTARS program offers the air force the most mature and capable technology available to meet this urgent need,” a Raytheon spokesman says in a statement to FlightGlobal. “Based on our assessment, the evaluation process had significant flaws, and we have filed a protest accordingly.”

Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems will remain under contract for radar risk reduction work until 31 Dec and remaining work will focus on contract close out and reviews, a USAF spokesman tells FlightGlobal.

Even if the USAF sidelines Raytheon, the service must still decide on the prime contractor.

A Northrop radar could be paired with a business jet platform from Gulfstream, Lockheed Martin or Boeing.

Since September, however, air force leaders have questioned moving forward with a traditional JSTARS replacement. Last week, USAF Gen Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, said a traditional JSTARS replacement would share the same vulnerabilities as the E-8C in contested airspace. So the air force is considering alternative platforms that could perform the mission with a greater chance of surviving in a hostile environment.

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