Thu, Nov 13, 2008
Pentagon Says Air Force Followed The Rules In Making
We may be finally nearing an end to the protracted battle over a
lucrative US Air Force helicopter contract. A draft Pentagon audit
indicates the service acted appropriately in changing four key
bidding requirements in the combat search-and-rescue (CSAR-X)
helicopter procurement bid.
Bloomberg reports the audit -- requested by the Senate Armed
Services Committee earlier this year -- states the USAF followed
protocol in making the changes, which ultimately resulted in the
awarding of the CSAR-X bid to the twin-rotor Boeing
HH-47. Competitors Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky
promptly filed protests of that decision, and the contract has been
in limbo ever since.
The nine-page audit reports states changes to the helicopter's
cabin space and payload, fuel range and other mission-readiness
criteria were "properly vetted" through the council "in accordance
with acquisition guidelines."
The Pentagon adds the Air Force made some of those changes at
the request of Sikorsky and Lockheed -- and that they were made "to
address contractor requests for clarification and to ensure full
and open competition." For example, those competitors asked that
the Air Force Special Operations Command revise downward the target
unrefueled range of operation, from 325 miles roundtrip to 275.
"Our review of the contractor-submitted documentation confirmed
these concerns and the rationale for adjusting" the requirement,
the audit states. "We found no indications that the changes will
adversely affect special operations capabilities in the Global War
The Air Force is reportedly on track to finally award the $15
billion CSAR-X helicopter contract next year. That decision was
supposed to come sooner... but the Air Force announced a "minor
delay" last month, to insure every "i" is dotted so the decision
isn't protested yet again.
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