January 08, 2018 |

Rachel Karas

 

The Government Accountability Office recently dismissed Raytheon’s formal protest that the Air Force unfairly excluded the company’s “Archimedes” wide-area surveillance radar from the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System recapitalization competition.

GAO closed the protest Dec. 28, about a month after it was filed Nov. 20 and two months before a ruling was due, according to the protest docket. The Air Force had 30 days to respond. Two supplemental protests Raytheon filed Dec. 11 and 18 were also dismissed Dec. 28.

A GAO official told Inside Defense Monday it did not resolve whether Raytheon was right, but said the Air Force was not so deeply involved in radar selection that it counted as taking over for the prime contractor, as Raytheon had argued. The Air Force contended — and GAO agreed — the federal watchdog doesn’t normally have jurisdiction to intervene in subcontract selection.

“Raytheon is a subcontractor to the prime contractors who submitted offers, and they alleged that because the government made a selection on the type of radar that should be used by the government, that the agency in effect was conducting a procurement at the subcontract level,” the GAO official said.

B.J. Boling, a Raytheon spokesman, would not comment on the decision but told Inside Defense Monday the company is deciding whether to contest the dismissal. In November, Raytheon said the Air Force’s process of deciding which radar designs would be considered to fly on one of three replacement aircraft was flawed.

The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To replace the 17 legacy E-8Cs, Boeing is offering its 737, Lockheed Martin is pitching Bombardier’s Global 6000 with Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman is bidding Gulfstream’s G550 with L3 Technologies. Each company offered the Air Force one proposal featuring a Northrop radar and one with Raytheon’s design. Northrop and Raytheon matured ground target-tracking radars under contracts worth more than $130 million.

The Air Force pushed back the award date for its $6.9 billion JSTARS engineering and manufacturing development contract to August as it explores how to pursue a follow-on capability for the current fleet, Inside Defense previously reported.