GAO Denies Sikorsky’s Challenge To Army Selection Of Bell V-280 Valor

The decision clears the way for continued development of the $7.1 billion Valor program.

The Bell V-280 can go from a hover to a top speed of around 280 knots. [Credit: Bell]

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied a Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. protest against the Army’s selection of the Bell Textron V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft over Sikorsky’s proposed DefiantX helicopter.

The Army announced its choice of the Bell Textron candidate late last year following a design competition for an Army program called the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, or FLRAA. The program was created to develop a replacement for the Army’s fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and begin fielding aircraft by fiscal year 2030. 

Sikorsky filed a protest following the Army’s decision, essentially claiming that the Army should have chosen its aircraft instead. Sikorsky’s Defiant X aircraft is a coaxial helicopter with a rear-mounted pusher propeller that, according to the company, “delivers transformational capability and affordability” while operating within the same footprint as the Black Hawk. 

The projected value of the FLRAA contract is about $7.1 billion, according to the GAO.

“In denying the protest, GAO 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 RFP (request for proposal).” Kenneth E. Patton, managing associate general counsel for procurement law at the GAO, said in a statement. 

“GAO also denied Sikorsky’s various allegations about the acceptability of Bell’s proposal, including the assertion that the agency’s evaluation violated the terms of the solicitation or applicable procurement law or regulation,” Patton said.

The GAO also said its denial of the protest “expresses no view as to the merits of these proposals. Judgements about which offeror will most successfully meet the government’s needs are reserved for the procuring agencies.”

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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