ROCKWELL International has joined Cessna Aircraft in formally protesting about the selection of the Raytheon Aircraft Beeck MkII turboprop trainer for the US Air Force/Navy Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS). Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, has withdrawn its complaint, and Northrop Grumman, which had two JPATS contenders, has decided not to object.

Award of the JPATS contract, which was expected in early August, will be delayed by two to three months while the US General Accounting Office (GAO) investigates the protests. Both Cessna and Rockwell argue that the JPATS winner was chosen based on the lowest bid, and not on "best value", which bidders were told would be the basis for selection.

Both manufacturers believe that the superior training effectiveness of their jet-powered aircraft resulted in lower life-cycle costs than that of the Beech MkII. Lockheed Martin, which offered the jet-powered MB.339A, felt similarly, but saw little chance of reversing the decision, and so withdrew its lower-level agency protest.

Northrop Grumman, which offered both the EMB-312H turboprop and jet-powered S211A, declines to comment on its decision to protest.

Options open to the GAO range from upholding the USAF's selection, through awarding the contract to one of the two protesters, to re-opening the contest to all the original bidders.

Source: Flight International