Contract To Be Re-Awarded In the Fall
US Air Force released draft requests for bids Monday to three
companies battling to win a disputed $15 billion helicopter
contract originally awarded to Boeing Co.
The USAF revised its bid, after receiving a non-binding
Government Accountability Office recommendation February 26 to
re-evaluate operation and support costs sections for a contract to
replace 141 Sikorsky helicopters.
As ANN reported, the GAO
recommended the Air Force reopen bidding on the deal -- which was
awarded to Boeing in November 2006 -- in February, following
protests from rival bidders Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky. On March
22, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne told a Senate committee
the USAF would not reopen bidding.
Wynne did agree to hear further arguments from both parties,
however, and abide by GAO recommendations on those protests.
Ever the government watchdog, the GAO backed protests from
Lockheed Martin Corp. and United Technologies Corp. when they
originally lost out to Boeing.
The agency agreed the USAF's evaluation of the bids was
"inconsistent" with what had been asked for, according to the
Associated Press. The GAO tossed out other protests, however, due
to lack of supporting evidence.
For its part, Boeing -- which had offered a search-and-rescue
variant of its HH-47 Chinook twin rotor helo for the CSAR-X deal --
said it would not protest or appeal the Air Force decision to
reopen bidding... and at least one analyst believes things will
still work out for the Chicago-based defense contractor in the
"This is positive for Boeing," said Cowen & Co. analyst Cai
Von Rumohr. "Any justification to limit protest grounds to one
issue makes it easier for the service. The GAO legitimized the rest
of the decision by throwing out the other grounds." (Bloomberg
notes Cowen & Co. holds shares in Boeing, and United
Sikorsky has proposed its HH-92 Super Hawk for the CSAR-X role;
Lockheed is pitching a variant of the three-engined US101
The contract will be awarded this fall, according to the USAF,
and Boeing, Lockheed Martin and UTX are expected to submit revised
bids in early June.