On Feb. 16, the Government Accountability Office denied the Boeing/Lockheed Martin protest of the $80 billion contract awarded to Northrop Grumman to build the Air Force’s next-generation bomber, allowing the program to proceed.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin filed their protest with the GAO Nov. 6, 2015.
The two companies “concluded the selection process for the Long Range Strike Bomber was fundamentally flawed. The cost evaluation performed by the government did not properly reward the contractors’ proposals to break the upward-spiraling historical cost curves of defense acquisitions, or properly evaluate the relative or comparative risk of the competitors’ ability to perform, as required by the solicitation.
“That flawed evaluation led to the selection of Northrop Grumman over the industry-leading team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, whose proposal offers the government and the warfighter the best possible LRS-B at a cost that uniquely defies the prohibitively expensive trends of the nation’s past defense acquisitions,” they said in a statement released announcing the protest.
The GAO however, disagreed. In a statement, the GAO said it “found no basis to sustain or uphold the protest,” concluding that the Air Force’s “technical evaluation, and the evaluation of costs, was reasonable, consistent with the terms of the solicitation, and in accordance with procurement laws and regulations.”
Boeing and Lockheed Martin had teamed up to bid on the Long Range Strategic Bomber.
The Air Force has said for years that the bomber program is a major priority as the new bomber will replace the Eisenhower-era B-52 bomber and the 37-year old B-1.
The contract was seen as critical for Boeing searching for replacement contracts for the soon to be phased out F-15 and F/A-18 production lines. The contract also marks a return for Northrop Grumman who has not had a major, manned aircraft contract since the B-2 bomber.
Almost everything about the new plane, including its likely shape and specific capabilities, is classified.