GAO Supports USAF CSAR-X Decision:

Despite conventional wisdom that would have picked the Lockheed Martin US101 or Sikorsky HH-92 before the Boeing HH-47, the just released Government Accountability Office report—with proprietary information removed—agrees with the USAF choice for the combat search and rescue helicopter replacement, given the information provided by the companies at the time. USAF asked for a more complete report covering issues other than the one on operations and support costs that GAO upheld in February. GAO found that USAF had acted properly when it downgraded Lockheed for past performance and in disregarding Sikorsky’s “slightly lower” life cycle cost in favor of Boeing’s “greater mission capability strengths.” On the Lockheed VH-71 helicopter performance issue, GAO found the company was “clearly on notice of the need to further account for its VH-71 performance,” which the Navy at the time had rated “very unfavorable.” (Since then, Navy officials have said Lockheed’s performance has progressed, as reported most recently by the Binghamton (N.Y.) Press & Sun Bulletin.) Whether this will be enough to convince Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) remains to be seen. The Air Force, at least, expects to press on. An official statement declares that the GAO decision “aids the Air Force in developing a responsive corrective action plan that allows both the Air Force and the CSAR-X offerors to focus their efforts on the specific cost issue identified in the GAO’s February 26, 2007 decision.”