The Insider

Boeing's Caret sheds more light on Compass Call protest

June 14, 2017 |
Courtney Albon
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A top Boeing executive said today the company's protest of an Air Force decision to appoint L3 Technologies as systems integrator for the Compass Call cross-deck program is less about the service's acquisition strategy and more about wanting to ensure Boeing's offering gets "due consideration."

The Air Force has selected L3 -- prime integrator for the legacy fleet -- to lead the systems integration effort to transfer Compass Call capabilities to a new airframe. That role also involves choosing which new platform will host the Compass Call mission.

Bombardier protested the Air Force's decision in February with the Government Accountability Office. The agency denied the protest in early March. Boeing then filed a protest May 19, which was followed by a second Bombardier challenge May 26.

Leanne Caret, the chief executive of Boeing's defense group, said at a June 14 Defense One event the company does not want to be "an impediment" to the Air Force by protesting its decision. However, Boeing wants to assure its offering is considered under L3's selection authority.

L3 is partnering with Northrop Grumman and Gulfstream on the project, and there is speculation it will select the Gulfstream G550 offering. In a May 25 statement, Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson pointed to "inherent and obvious conflicts of interests."

Caret would not address concerns about the acquisition strategy, saying: "I'm not going to speak to how the acquisition process works." Instead, she said, the focus of the company's protest is on ensuring its offering gets a fair chance. She noted that Boeing did not protest the decision immediately after it was announced, but took time to understand what the strategy might mean.

"We gave it a little time to settle, we had some further conversations and we decided . . . that we thought we were disadvantaged in a way in terms of getting the information out about the capabilities that our platform provides," she said.