NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A government watchdog agency announced Thursday that it denied a challenge by Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, and Boeing over the U.S. Army’s decision to go with a different company for a new helicopter contract.
In December, the Army awarded the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Weapon System Development contract to Bell Textron Inc., Fort Worth, Texas. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Bell’s tilt-rotor V-280 Valor will replace Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter by 2030.
The GAO denied the appeal, saying it had “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].”
The agency also denied Sikorsky’s allegations about the acceptability of Bell’s proposal and dismissed its other arguments.
In a statement, Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing said they remain confident they submitted the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk option with its Defiant X helicopter.
“We remain confident the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing team submitted the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft solution,” their statement read. “We will review the GAO’s decision and determine our next steps.”
Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) said he remains committed to keeping Sikorsky and its employees in Stratford.
“This decision is disappointing, but Connecticut’s Congressional delegation and I are committed to keeping Sikorsky and their world-class workforce here on the ground in Stratford and their choppers in the skies,” Lamont said. “America needs them. Our troops need them. We need them. 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.”
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the Army is not being transparent about its decision.
“I have asked the secretary of defense last week in an open hearing, the secretary of the army, various other officials for some justification, some explanation for the army’s decision, none have been forthcoming,” he said.
Blumenthal called GAO’s decision “deeply disappointing and infuriating.”
Across Lockheed Martin, 800 positions were eliminated earlier this year.
News 8 asked Sen. Blumenthal about the future of Sikorsky;
“I have no information on what the imminent plans are for the present number of workers going forward – but we’re certainly going to encourage Sikorsky to keep them on board because it will need them for the future,” Blumenthal said.
The Democrat plans to further address the decision Friday afternoon in a news conference at the state capitol.
Sikorsky now has the option to appeal the contract decision to the United States Court of Federal Claims.