Feds Deny Sikorsky Contract Appeal
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied a challenge by Sikorsky of the U.S. Army’s choice of aircraft to eventually succeed the company’s Black Hawk model.
Stratford-based Sikorsky filed a formal protest Dec. 28 requesting that the GAO review the Army’s selection of Bell Textron’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor model for its next-generation assault aircraft.
The Army chose the Bell model for its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program over the high-speed Defiant X prototype [pictured above] developed by the Lockheed Martin subsidiary in partnership with Boeing.
The FLRAA program is the country’s largest helicopter procurement award in four decades, worth an initial $1.3 billion and as much as $70 billion in the long-term.
In an April 8 joint statement, Lockheed Martin and Boeing officials said the companies “will review the GAO’s decision and determine our next steps.”
“We remain confident the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing team submitted the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft solution,” the statement read.
‘Won’t Define Future’
When the appeal was submitted last year, company president Paul Lemmo reassured Sikorsky’s hundreds of suppliers, noting that current contracts meant the Black Hawk will remain in production at least through 2027.
“We are going to maintain those suppliers as we continue to build Black Hawk and we’ll see the outcome of this protest as it relates to FLRAA,” he said.
“This decision, whichever way it ends up going even after the protest, certainly will not define the future of Sikorsky.”
At a January ceremony marking delivery of the 5,000th Hawk variant, Col. Calvin Lane, utility helicopter project manager for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office-Aviation, said the Army will continue flying Black Hawks into the 2060s.
“Even though the helicopter has been around longer than most of the soldiers it now supports, the Army plans for it to be in front line service another 40 years and beyond,” he said.
In addition to current Black Hawk production and service commitments, the U.S. Navy recently authorized full production of Sikorsky’s King Stallion heavy lift cargo helicopter.
Sikorsky’s Raider X prototype also remains in contention for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, also in competition with Bell.
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the denial of the appeal “was disappointing, particularly as it appears the Defiant X is the cost-effective solution.”
“Nonetheless, Sikorsky and its supply chain have shown they have the resiliency and innovation to weather any challenge,” he added.
“They’ve endured COVID, global supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and soaring inflation in just the last three years and I am sure this setback will also be overcome.”
Gov. Ned Lamont said his administration was “committed to keeping Sikorsky and their world-class workforce here on the ground in Stratford and their choppers in the skies.”
“With many years of production left for the Black Hawk and CH-53K King Stallion and additional competitions coming down the road, Sikorsky will keep Stratford, Connecticut, and democracy strong,” he said in a statement.
Connecticut’s Congressional delegation also issued a joint statement, expressing disappointment with the GAO decision and continuing concerns with the lack of transparency about the Army’s FLRAA choice.
“We will work to uncover the Army’s process for making this decision and fight to keep jobs here in Connecticut,” the statement read.
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