Sikorsky disputes US Army’s choice of Bell V-280 tiltrotor

Company says proposals submitted to the FLRAA program “were not consistently evaluated”. Winning aircraft will replace Black Hawk helicopters

Sikorsky, part of the Lockheed Martin group, filed on Wednesday a formal protest against the US Army questioning the choice of the Bell V-280 Valor as the winner of the FLRAA (Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft) program, defined earlier this month.

The V-280, an aircraft with tilting rotors, won the proposal from Sikorsky in partnership with Boeing, which offered the helicopter with coaxial rotors and pusher Defiant X. The FLRAA program aims to develop a replacement for the more than 2,000 helicopters UH-60 Black Hawk of the US Army.

Sikorsky’s complaint was directed to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), which has 100 days to issue a decision – therefore, until April 7, 2023. The development contract awarded to Bell Textron on Dec. 5 hits $1.3 billion.

“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,” Sikorsky said in a statement.

The Defiant X prototype and the UH-60 Black Hawk (LM)

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.”

US Army Contracting Command spokesman Joseph Giunta told a news conference that protests over the FLRAA program decision were expected from both Sikorsky and Bell. “We’ve anticipated that potentially happening and have accounted for that in our timelines.”

Under the terms of the FLRAA program, the first production helicopter chosen by the US Army is scheduled for delivery by 2030. Considering the acquisition of more than 2,000 aircraft, the total contract value could exceed $70 billion.