The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday denied Lockheed Martin Corp’s (LMT.N) protest of the Army contract for the Future Long Range-Assault Aircraft worth as much as a $7.1 billion, awarded to Textron Inc’s (TXT.N) Bell helicopter unit over Lockheed’s Sikorsky unit.
The U.S. Army “reasonably evaluated Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable because Sikorsky failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the” request for proposal, the GAO said in a statement.
The Army awarded the contract in December in the hopes of ending a years-long competition for its next-generation helicopter that would partially replace its fleet of more than 2,000 medium-class UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters built by Sikorsky since the 1970s.
The Army has said it plans to fly its remaining Black Hawk fleet through the 2060’s.
The initial contract award was for $232 million, but the first batch of helicopters in low rate production will be worth $7.1 billion. Ultimately, the contract is potentially worth around $70 billion – over decades – depending on how many the Army and U.S. allies order, the Army has said.
In the FLARAA competition was Bell’s V-280 “Valor,” a tiltrotor aircraft that has reached speeds in excess of 340 mph (547 kph) according to the Army. It beat out the entrant from Lockheed’s Sikorsky unit and Boeing Co’s (BA.N) SB-1 “Defiant” which has two coaxial rotors and a single pusher propeller and has reached speeds of 265 mph (426 kph), according to the Army.
“We remain confident the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing team submitted the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft solution. We will review the GAO’s decision and determine our next steps,” the companies said in a statement.
Lockheed could bring the matter before the US Court of Federal Claims.