Editor’s Note: When Northrop-Grumman won the original award of the U.S. Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B, now known as the B-21) contract, the competing team of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Their claim was denied by the GAO, and both companies have elected to not pursue any further action, either with the GAO itself or in Federal Court.
Northrop-Grumman was awarded the contract in October over the losing Boeing/Lockheed team, which protested the source selection process through the GAO, but was rejected.
Boeing has not ruled out legal action, but a phone call between USAF secretary Deborah Lee James and Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg earlier this week appears to have softened the company’s resolve. Boeing has publicly called the selection process “fundamentally flawed”.
“While we remain firmly convinced of the validity of the issues raised in our protest to the [GAO] of the long range strike-bomber contract award to Northrop Grumman, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin team has decided not to pursue further challenges to that award, either through the GAO or in federal court,” Boeing and Lockheed say in a joint statement on 26 February. “This decision was taken, as always, with the best interests of our customer and the warfighter in mind.”
Asked about reports earlier today that Boeing won’t pursue legal action, James said she hoped that would be the case. “I did receive a phone call earlier this week from the CEO of Boeing, which was encouraging,” says James. “Boeing is a very valuable partner and we have a lot going on with Boeing and we need to get on with the bomber.”
The bomber development program is worth approximately $23 billion and each stealth aircraft is worth an estimated $564 million, per a cost-control requirement in the competition.
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