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Tue, Feb 27, 2007

GAO Rules USAF Should Take Another Look At CSAR-X

Sikorsky, Lockheed Applaud Decision; Boeing Won Original Round

On Monday, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) recommended the US Air Force reconsider its decision to award the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR-X) contract to Boeing. As Aero-News reported, Boeing was awarded the contract last November, for its twin-rotor HH-47 (shown below).

The Air Force Times reports the GAO voted to overturn the contract, after reviewing protests by Sikorsky Aircraft Company and Lockheed Martin. Those companies claim the Air Force's approach to determining the aircraft's long-term service costs was inconsistent the guidelines originally spelled out in the proposal.

As you might expect, the news was greeted with enthusiasm by Sikorsky, which had submitted its HH-92, a variant of the civilian S-92, in the CSAR-X competition.

"We are pleased that the GAO has sustained Sikorsky's protest and are reviewing the GAO's decision to determine the appropriate course of action," said Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pino. "We sought to ensure the selection process accurately evaluated the characteristics and performance of our HH-92 Super Hawk helicopter (below). We have complete confidence that this helicopter is the best platform for the Air Force's current and future needs."

Lockheed spokesman Greg Caires echoed those sentiments.

"We are confident that, when fairly evaluated on its demonstrated capabilities, the US101 helicopter will be selected as the best choice and best value to satisfy the Air Force’s CSAR-X requirement," Caires said.

The US101 (below) was thought at one point to be the front-runner in the original competition, due to its three-engine configuration. A variant of the helo was named the new Marine One presidential transport in 2005.

Boeing remained confident the HH-47, a variant of the storied CH-47 Chinook, would win in a second round of competition... although as of now, the USAF hasn't announced what its next step will be.

"We still believe the HH-47 is the most capable platform for the CSAR mission and provides the best value to the Air Force in meeting this critical requirement," said Boeing spokesman Joseph LaMarca.



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