Others Also Question Specifics Of C-27J Selection
When two or more engineering powerhouses compete for lucrative
US military contracts, it has become de rigueur for the
losing parties to protest the selection of the winner. It happened
with the US Air Force combat search and rescue helicopter (CSAR-X) helicopter bid...
and now, Raytheon has filed a protest over the results of the US
Army/US Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) competition.
Dow Jones Newswires reports Raytheon filed the protest Friday,
after company officials reviewed a briefing on the contest outcome.
As ANN reported, a team led
by L-3 Communications was awarded the JCA bid on June 13, for its
turboprop C-27J Spartan (above) offering. The bid calls for the
Finmeccanica-sourced aircraft to be built by Boeing, on a US
Raytheon also offered a European plane in the bid -- the C-295
turboprop (shown below), manufactured by EADS. And while Raytheon
was vague on the specifics of its protest filed with the Government
Accountability Office, it is clear Raytheon believes it offered the
better package to fill the need for a new small cargo plane.
"You can only protest and win if the process was flawed,"
Raytheon CEO William Swanson said in an interview last week, before
the company has received the full debriefing on the competition.
"Did they follow the process they said they were going to follow?
If they made an incorrect assumption about your proposal that was
clear, or if they evaluated something that wasn't spelled out in
the criteria, then the process becomes flawed."
Even before Raytheon's protest with the GAO, questions
surrounded the selection of the C-27J. At last week's Paris Air
Show, officials with L-3 and partner Alenia offered varied
timelines and production rate estimates, according to Dow
It's also tough to determine just how many planes the contract
calls for -- the Pentagon's official announcement states "up to"
78, despite projections of a need for as many as 200 planes.
Those questions are
also relevant to the value of the contract. US Army officials
called the Pentagon's quoted $2 million figure a "misprint," saying
the total is closer to twice that. Analysts speculate the Pentagon
got its numbers confused, citing the cost for the 54 planes
destined for Army service as the total figure, without including
the price of the planes heading to the Air Force.
Some have also suggested the ambiguity shows the USAF isn't
fully onboard the JCA program, regardless of the aircraft
"I have always seriously questioned the Air Force's real
commitment to the JCA program," said defense blogger Stephen
Trimble. "My skepticism will increase if it is confirmed that the
Air Force has committed no funds to buy aircraft in the actual
contract award, whatever they say they intend to buy."
USAF officials say they are studying the service's long-term
needs for the JCA, before it commits to adding more aircraft.