Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit is challenging the U.S. Army’s December 5th decision to award its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract to Bell and has filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The move was widely-anticipated.
Bell had fielded and flown its V-280 tiltrotor while the Sikorsky-Boeing team offered the Defiant X based on Sikorsky’s X-2 coaxial compound helicopter technology. The FLRAA program was designed to produce aircraft to eventually replace up to 4,000 Sikorsky Black Hawks. The initial production aircraft are expected to be operational by 2030 and the entire program could have a value of up to $80 billion.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Lockheed Martin said, “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. 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. The critical importance of the FLRAA mission to the Army and our nation requires the most capable, affordable, and lowest-risk solution. We remain confident Defiant X is the transformational aircraft the Army requires to accomplish its complex missions today and well into the future.”
Before being retired in 2021, Bell’s V-280 demonstration aircraft flew 214 hours over three years. During testing the V-280 achieved a maximum forward speed of 305 knots and demonstrated a combat range of 500 to 800 nm and a self-deployment range of 1,734 nm. The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant first flew in March 2019. Compared to the V-280, the SB-1 Defiant lagged in demonstrated forward speed and the Defiant X, a refined version under development, has yet to fly.