Sikorsky has not been shy about telling the Air Force that its acquisition approach to the combat search and rescue helicopter replacement program is anything but open and transparent, declaring it is “plainly arbitrary” and “appears exclusively to favor one offeror”—Boeing—in a five-page letter sent to USAF last week. Sikorsky says the Air Force’s draft revised request for proposals was “contrary” to both an OSD directive and the Government Accountability Office’s decision that prompted the replay of the CSAR-X award because its ignores “the real cost of operating and maintaining” the proposed CSAR-X aircraft. A key bone of contention for Sikorsky has been USAF’s refusal to consider the “burdened fuel costs” it says OSD requires. And, in its letter, the Connecticut-based company takes issue with the Air Force’s method of calculating deployability costs, writing that the service’s approach is “intentionally overlooking the significantly higher costs that will result from the Herculean effort required to deploy the [Boeing] HH-47.” During the initial performance tests, the Boeing helicopter required a 4.5 hours loading/unloading/deployment process, while Sikorsky’s HH-92 took only “17 minutes on the front end and 38 minutes on the back end.” Sikorsky also berates USAF’s decision to prohibit a second round of questions and comments after issuing the final amended RFP. The company doesn’t think much either of the three weeks USAF has allowed the offerors to submit their new proposals.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.