As reported by Reuters, GAO’s Managing Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law, Ralph White, said the protest didn’t have enough foundation to warrant it being sustained or upheld against the U.S. Air Force contract, which Northrop Grumman received in October.
The full value of the contract hasn’t been released, but some have valued the contract at more than $80 billion. The deal tasks Northrop Grumman with replacing the military’s declining B-1 and B-52 bombers fleets with a new Long-Range Strike Bomber.
White said the U.S. Air Force’s assessment of the bids was “reasonable, consistent with the terms of the solicitation, and in accordance with procurement laws and regulations.”
Despite White’s claim and the GAO’s ruling, Boeing could still challenge the contract in federal court. The company said in a statement Tuesday that it will review the recent decision and then decide within the next few days whether it wants to pursue the fairness of the contract award any further.
“We continue to believe that our offering represents the best solution for the Air Force and the nation, and that the government’s selection process was fundamentally and irreparably flawed,” the statement read.
The first phase of the contract given to Northrop Grumman, which was for engineering and manufacturing work, has an estimated value of $21.4 billion in 2010 dollars. The phase also includes options to produce 21 bombers. The Air Force said in October that it was likely to eventually buy 100 of the new bombers under the contract at an estimated cost of $511 million each in 2010 dollars.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III praised the new bomber in October during an Air Force statement announcing the contract.
“The LRS-B will provide our nation tremendous flexibility as a dual-capable bomber and the strategic agility to respond and adapt faster than our potential adversaries,” he said. “We have committed to the American people to provide security in the skies, balanced by our responsibility to affordably use taxpayer dollars in doing so. This program delivers both while ensuring we are poised to face emerging threats in an uncertain future.”
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