The bid deadline for the U.S. Navy’s high-profile VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program closed on August 1 with apparently only one bidder—Sikorsky Aircraft—submitting a proposal. The Navy declined to identify the number of bids received, but other companies that had earlier announced plans to compete for the VXX contract confirmed that they have decided not to submit proposals.
The VXX aircraft will replace the aging fleet of Sikorsky VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns flown by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) for presidential and VIP transport. The program has a checkered past. In January 2005 the Navy selected Lockheed Martin’s VH-71 Kestrel version of the AgustaWestland AW101 for the VXX requirement. But after spending $3 billion on development, the Pentagon terminated the program in June 2009 due to cost overruns.
Sikorsky, now teamed with Lockheed Martin, announced its plan to compete for the Navy’s latest program round with the S-92 medium-lift helicopter. Northrop Grumman and AgustaWestland announced a partnership to offer the AW101 once again. Boeing considered offering either the H-47 Chinook or V-22 Osprey tiltrotor for the requirement. The Navy issued a final request for proposals (RFP) in May for what will ultimately be a 21-helicopter procurement.
Sikorsky confirmed that it submitted a proposal by the bid deadline. “Sikorsky and partner Lockheed Martin are proud to respond to the request for proposals for the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program. We have prepared our proposal anticipating a full and open competition against other industry teams…Our offering, the VH-92, meets every requirement outlined by the Navy, and is a proven, safe and reliable aircraft to meet the needs of the Office of the President.”
Boeing and the team of AgustaWestland and Northrop Grumman confirmed that they have decided not to pursue the VXX contract.
“After a comprehensive analysis of the final RFP, we determined we were unable to compete effectively given the current requirements and the evaluation methodology defined in the RFP,” AgustaWestland stated. “There are fundamental proposal evaluation issues that inhibit our ability to submit a competitive offering, and that provide a significant advantage to our likely competitor. The decision to withdraw was most difficult, as we believe we have the best, most capable aircraft for the President and the one selected in the prior competition.”
Boeing noted that the Chinook and V-22 are often used to transport military and government leaders, but added, “We do not believe these aircraft would be competitive for this program as it is currently structured.”
In a statement provided to AIN, the Navy said that federal regulations prohibit it from identifying the bidders while the program remains in “source selection.” The service said that it will “follow procedures outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulations and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement regardless of number of proposals received. In a full and open competition in which a single bid is received, provisions exist to gather additional cost data from the bidder to ensure a fair and reasonable price has been submitted for evaluation.
“If only one bid is received, that would indicate that no other prospective bidder believed it could meet the government’s minimum requirement at a lower cost than its expected competition,” the Navy added. “Regardless of the number of proposals received, we will absolutely ensure a cost-effective solution for VXX before moving forward.”