Sierra Nevada withdraws GAO protest of Air Force's CRH upgrade contract

By Sara Sirota / April 13, 2021 at 5:27 PM

Sierra Nevada has withdrawn a Feb. 22 protest with the Government Accountability Office against an Air Force solicitation for a nearly $1 billion HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter upgrades contract.

According to GAO's bid protest docket, SNC withdrew its complaint April 6 -- after the 30-day deadline by which an agency must file a response. SNC declined to provide a comment to Inside Defense about what led to the decision to withdraw.

A source familiar with the procurement told Inside Defense last week the company intends to file a complaint in U.S. Federal Claims Court, which SNC declined to confirm.

Court records indicate SNC did file a sealed complaint against the government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Monday over an unidentified pre-award contract. SNC has not responded to an email from Inside Defense asking if the new complaint is related to the GAO protest.

The company has not publicly disclosed its objections to the CRH upgrades contract in its original GAO complaint, which has not been released. However, the protest arrived just 11 days after the Air Force announced it would sole source the award to Sikorsky -- the prime contractor for the CRH program -- without competition.

The Feb. 11 justification and approval document the Air Force released detailing this sole-source decision argued awarding the contract to any other company "would result in unacceptable delays" to fielding. It further revealed the service was not yet in possession of a complete CRH technical data package, which is necessary for competition, and was "in dispute" with Sikorsky over intellectual property rights.

It’s not clear if SNC participated in market research for the HH-60W upgrades contract, but the company makes the kind of technologies the Air Force is looking to add to the new helicopters, like a degraded visual environment system that SNC is installing on the legacy HH-60G Pave Hawks.