Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, and Boeing, which partnered to deliver Team DEFIANT, lodged a formal protest with the US Government Accountability Office in order to review the US Army’s multi-billion Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract.
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Following a hotly contested review period between Bell and Sikorsky and Boeing, the US Army selected the tilt-rotor design, Textron/Bell V280 Valor design, which draws on the design principles and operational success of the Boeing V-22 Osprey - the decision has left the Sikorsky and Boeing team confused and pursuing a formal review through the US Government's Accountability Office.
In a formal statement, the two companies said, "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.
"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."
The US Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft is designed to replace the venerable UH-60 series Blackhawk helicopters in service, providing the US Army with an advanced utility helicopter and air assault weapon system that can fly low and fast, land quickly, deliver soldiers to the objective area in the face of increasingly complex threat environments.
Sikrosky's parent company, Lockheed Martin describes the Defiant platform as providing the US Army with, "unmatched range and survivability" that would "provides pilots with increased maneuverability and survivability in high-threat air defence environments, allowing them to penetrate enemy defences while reducing exposure to enemy fire."
At the time of the contract announcement, the Textron chairman and chief executive officer, Scott C. Donnelly said, "We are honoured that the US Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft. We intend to honour that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements. We are excited to play an important role in the future of Army Aviation."
These comments were reinforced by Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell who said, "This is an exciting time for the US Army, Bell, and Team Valor as we modernise the Army’s aviation capabilities for decades to come. Bell has a long history supporting Army Aviation and we are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system in the world."