Back to the Drawing Board

The Government Accountability Office has ruled in favor of the Lockheed Martin-Agusta Westland US101 team and Sikorsky protests over the Air Force’s award of the combat search and rescue aircraft replacement program contract to Boeing. The decisions, which are non-binding but certainly cast some doubt on the program, came late Monday. Both Lockheed and Sikorsky issued statements, each saying that they are certain their aircraft will win out in the end. The CSAR-X program potentially is worth $15 billion through the full production of 141 aircraft. The selection of the HH-47 surprised many defense analysts, who thought the US101 had the advantage since the Marine Corps chose it as the new Presidential transport. Service leaders said that they chose the Boeing HH-47 for best value and fast delivery—several months earlier than either competitor. The Air Force’s expected 2012 initial operational capability now may be in jeopardy.