GAO Denies Sikorsky FLRAA Protest


The U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) has denied a protest filed by Sikorsky that challenged the award of the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) development contract to Bell Textron. The contract, which is valued at approximately $7.1 billion if all options are exercised, was given to Bell for its V-280 Valor tiltrotor last December. Sikorsky filed its protest later that month citing issues with the evaluation of both its own proposal and Bell’s.

“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],” the accountability office 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.”

The FLRAA program was launched in 2019 with the goal of developing a vertical lift aircraft to eventually replace the Army’s aging H‑60 Black Hawk utility helicopter fleet. The program aims to field the first aircraft by fiscal year 2030 with entry-in-to-service planned for the mid-2030s. The two contenders for FLRAA were the Bell V-280 Valor and the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant X.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Sikorsky was so far behind the power curve with the development of their aircraft for submittal. The Bell V280 was completely finished with all its flight testing before Sikorsky even flew. The 280 is hands down the better choice.

    • I guess time will tell, though the V280 doesn’t exactly match all criteria either (it does take up more space than a Blackhawk). And I believe a similar argument was made in picking Lockheed’s F35 over the Boeing offering, but that didn’t exactly translate into a ready-to-go aircraft.

    • Tilt-rotors don’t exactly have the greatest track record or flight dynamics either. But a conventional helicopter was not going to be able to meet the Army’s speed and range requirements.