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Sikorsky-Boeing FLRAA protest denied

By Jen Nevans | April 14, 2023

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 19 seconds.

Bell Textron and the U.S. Army can now move ahead with developing the V-280 Valor tiltrotor as the next Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). The news comes after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied Sikorsky-Boeing’s protest to overturn the FLRAA decision, concluding that the “Army reasonably evaluated Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable.”

Bell
Bell Textron has been given the greenlight to continue developing the V-280 Valor tiltrotor as the next Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied Sikorsky-Boeing’s protest to overturn the FLRAA decision. Bell Photo

In an April 6 statement from Kenneth E. Patton, managing associate general counsel for procurement law at GAO, the organization determined that Sikorsky-Boeing, with their Defiant X compound coaxial helicopter offering, “failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the [request for proposal].”

In December 2022, the Army awarded the $7.1 billion FLRAA contract to Bell and its V-280 Valor tiltrotor over Sikorsky-Boeing and their Defiant X. Bell’s aircraft would replace about 2,000 of Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawks in the Army’s fleet, with the goal of fielding the first aircraft by 2030.

The Lockheed Martin company challenged the decision in January 2023, protesting the agency’s evaluation and selection process related to its engineering design and development, architecture, cost-price evaluation, and the best-value tradeoff decision.

The companies also asserted that the agency “should have found Bell’s proposal to be unacceptable,” Patton stated. But the GAO has denied the companies’ “allegations about the acceptability of Bell’s proposal, including the assertion that the agency’s evaluation violated the terms of the solicitation or applicable procurement law or regulation.”

Following the announcement, Lockheed Martin said in a statement that the company remains “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.”

Meanwhile, Sikorsky and Bell continue to go head-to-head to develop the next aircraft that will replace the Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior in the Army’s fleet through the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition — Sikorsky with its Raider-X compound coaxial helicopter, and Bell with its 360 Invictus single-main-rotor design.

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