Air Force Complies With GAO Findings, But Will Not Reevaluate
This week, the US Air Force issued a revised request for
proposals for its $15 billion combat search and rescue helicopter
(CSAR-X) competition... and it didn't take long for one of the
bidders to express its dismay at the revised solicitation.
"We are extremely disappointed. The Air Force has been largely
unresponsive to our questions and concerns. We are reviewing the
RFP (Request for Proposals) and keeping all our options open," said
Sikorsky Aircraft spokesman Paul Jackson to the Connecticut
As ANN reported last
November, the Air Force initially chose Boeing's
HH-47, a derivative of the twin-rotor Chinook heavy-lift helo, as
its CSAR-X selection. It was awarded the contract over two smaller
helicopters -- Sikorsky's HH-92 (above), and the AgustaWestland
HH-101, submitted by Lockheed Martin -- that those manufacturers
argued better met the requirements of the contract bid.
Both Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin filed several complaints with
the Government Accountability Office, each claiming the Air Force
didn't follow its own procedures in selecting the Boeing bird.
Earlier this year, the GAO upheld one of those protests -- saying
the USAF was inconsistent in evaluating operating and maintenance
life-cycle costs for the proposals.
The revision released this week by the Air Force addresses the
GAO's concerns... and nothing else. Furthermore, the Air Force --
in no uncertain terms -- said it would not allow changes to other
aspects of the proposal, such as reevaulating performance figures
for each helicopter.
And that's why Sikorsky's
"The draft contemplates a corrective action that is seriously
flawed and one that will unnecessarily cost taxpayers billions of
dollars," wrote Ariel David, director of government contracts for
Sikorsky, in a five-page letter to Air Force officials.
The Air Force responded with a 13-page letter of its own.
"The government will not consider any additional information...
relating to the mission capability, proposal risk, past performance
or any other portion of the price/cost factors," the Air Force
said, reports CBS Marketwatch.
As far as Sikorsky's protests, the Air Force says it and
Lockheed should have raised their concerns more forcefully during
the GAO protest process.
"That is a matter between the concerned parties and their counsel,"
the service wrote.
In other words, tough cookies... but Davis remains undaunted,
and implied Sikorsky could file another protest, or even a
"Sikorsky is confident that the HH-92 is the absolute best
solution for the combat search-and-rescue mission; for its part,
the Air Force is obligated to give the HH-92 helicopter a fair
chance to compete for this requirement," he writes. "Rest assured,
Sikorsky will vigorously oppose any effort by the Air Force to
repeat its mistakes, make new ones, or otherwise bypass the mandate
for full and open competition."
Bidders have around three weeks to submit their revised