GAO Denies Sikorsky Protest of FLRAA Contract Award

Bell V-280. Image – Bell

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has denied a protest filed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp challenging the U.S. Army’s award of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) weapon system development contract to Bell Textron Inc. The FLRAA program involves development and production of a new vertical lift aircraft to augment, and ultimately replace, the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter fleet, with a goal of fielding the first aircraft by FY30. The projected total contract value, including all options, is approximately $7.1 billion.

According to the GAO, Sikorsky had challenged the assignment of an unacceptable rating to its FLRAA proposal under the engineering design and development evaluation factor, architecture subfactor, which had ultimately rendered the proposal ineligible for award. Sikorsky also argued that Bell’s FLRAA proposal should have been found unacceptable as well. Finally, Sikorsky challenged the evaluation under the engineering design and development factor and the product supportability factor, the cost/price evaluation, and the best-value tradeoff decision.

In denying the protest, the GAO concluded that the Army reasonably evaluated Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable because the company failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the Request for Proposals (RFP). The GAO also denied various allegations made by Sikorsky about the acceptability of Bell’s FLRAA proposal, including the assertion that the Army’s evaluation violated the terms of the solicitation or applicable procurement law or regulation. Finally, the GAO dismissed Sikorsky’s additional arguments on the basis that the company was no longer an interested party to further challenge the procurement. The GAO expressed no view as to the merits of the FLRAA proposals themselves.

In December 2022, the Army selected the Bell V-280 tiltrotor aircraft for the FLRAA contract. The V-280 had been competing for the award against the Defiant X compound helicopter from a team of Sikorsky and Boeing.

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About Raymond Jaworowski

Raymond Jaworowski currently co-authors three of Forecast International's best-selling products: Civil Aircraft Forecast, Military Aircraft Forecast, and Rotorcraft Forecast. As a contributor to Aviation Week & Space Technology's Aerospace Source Book, he has authored Aircraft Outlooks, and provided input for the publication's Aircraft Specifications tables. Raymond has represented Forecast International at numerous conferences and trade shows, often as a featured speaker. He is a member of the American Helicopter Society. Prior to joining Forecast International, he worked at Industry News Service and, earlier, interned at the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

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