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Sikorsky Challenges US Army Future Helicopter Contract With Bell

Sikorsky has filed a protest with the US government regarding the US Army’s decision to award a contract for its next-generation helicopter to Textron’s Bell.

The Lockheed Martin subsiadary seeks a review of the $1.3 billion contract awarded in early December, in which Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor was selected over Sikorsky and Boeing’s Defiant X coaxial rotor for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.

“Based on a thorough review of the information and feedback provided by the Army, Lockheed Martin Sikorsky, on behalf of Team DEFIANT, is challenging the FLRAA decision,” a statement from Sikorsky said.

“The data and discussions lead us to believe the proposals were not consistently evaluated to deliver the best value in the interest of the Army, our Soldiers and American taxpayers.”

“The critical importance of the FLRAA mission to the Army and our nation requires the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk solution. We remain confident DEFIANT X is the transformational aircraft the Army requires to accomplish its complex missions today and well into the future.”

A decision on Sikorsky’s protest is expected within 100 days after the filing date, according to US Government Accountability Office regulation.

Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft Program

Launched in 2019, the FLRAA will replace 2,000 UH-60 Black Hawk medium-lift and 1,200 AH-64 Apache helicopters of the US Army.

UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter.
UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. Photo: Master Sgt. Matt Hecht/New Jersey National Guard

The latest aircraft’s low-rate production phase is approximately $7 billion and might reach $70 billion if additional options are exercised, Defense News reported, citing US Army Program Executive Officer Maj. Gen. Rob Barrie.

The new fleet will perform assault missions and assist ground forces operating in decentralized and extended distances to “ensure mission success through tactical maneuver at operational and strategic distances.”

“We are committed to equipping the Army’s first unit with the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft no later than 2030,” the army said during the solicitation for the program.

“This effort will provide critical risk mitigation and inform the program of record as we pursue the material solution to meet the Army’s aviation modernization priority.”

Following the selection of V-280, the service is expected to conduct field testing in 2023.

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