Bell Textron Inc. can move forward with manufacturing the U.S. Army’s future attack helicopter after the government overruled protests over the Army’s decision to award the contract worth billions of dollars to the Fort Worth-based company.
The Government Accountability Office denied the protest by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky and Boeing for the U.S. Army contract to produce the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft on April 6.
Bell Textron Inc. won the contract in December with its tilt-rotor aircraft, the V-280 Valor, which will eventually replace Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawk.
The contract could be worth more than $70 billion over the decades, according to reporting from Reuters. Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky and Boeing proposed the DEFIANT X helicopter.
“In denying the protest, GAO concluded that the Army reasonably evaluated Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable because Sikorsky failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the (request for proposal,” Kenneth E. Patton, the GAO’s managing association general counsel for procurement law, said in a statement.
Protests of major government contracts are fairly common, but not commonly successful. Bell’s competitors still question the choice by the Army. The GAO makes sure the Army evaluated the winning proposal based on the requirements the companies received to ensure fairness.
“We remain confident the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing team submitted the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft solution. We will review the GAO’s decision and determine our next steps,” according to a joint statement from Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing.
Bell executives recently broke ground in Grand Prairie on a $20 million lab that would conduct tests to develop gearboxes for V-280 Valor that are lighter and more efficient when the GAO was still reviewing the protest.
“This decision validates the U.S. Army’s historic choice to modernize its air assault fleet with the flight-proven speed, range and versatility delivered by Bell’s V-280 Valor,” according to a statement from Bell. “The Army followed a deliberate process throughout the competition, and we are excited to get to work as the Army’s partner in modernizing its aviation fleet.”
Bell and Lockheed Martin are also competing for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, which are helicopters designed for scouting and reconnaissance.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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