Sikorsky president says company is absorbing lessons learned from FLRAA loss

By Dan Schere / April 25, 2023 at 5:23 PM

Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo said Tuesday afternoon that the company is examining the feedback from the Army and the Government Accountability Office on the reasons for losing the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft contract.

Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin, lost out to Bell, owned by Textron, on the FLRAA contract. After the Army announced the decision in early December, Sikorsky filed a bid protest with GAO, alleging inconsistencies in the way the Army evaluated its DEFIANT X proposal and Bell’s V-280 Valor.

This month, GAO denied Sikorsky’s protest, agreeing with the Army’s original feedback that the DEFIANT X lacked enough detail when it came to engineering design and development. The company ultimately chose not to take further legal action.

Lemmo, speaking by phone to reporters Tuesday ahead of the Aviation Association of America’s annual conference in Nashville, TN, said despite the outcome of the protest, he is still encouraged by positive feedback from the Army on the company’s X2 technology -- a coaxial rotor system that eliminates the need for a tail rotor. Sikorsky’s proposal for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft also uses X2 technology.

“As we review all the feedback that we got on the proposal on the FLRAA offering, in particular the X2 technology, I think the good news there is that we have many strengths associated with X2,” Lemmo said.

“Specifically, the feedback that we received from the Army let us know that the agility, stability and scalability of our X2 technology can be extremely useful in contested areas,” he added.

Lemmo did not elaborate on the reasons Sikorsky chose not to take the FLRAA case to court. He emphasized that the Army only rated the DEFIANT X as “unacceptable” in the architecture subfactor, but that caused the overall engineering and design factor to also be viewed as unacceptable.

As Sikorsky competes with Bell for the FARA contract, Lemmo said they are continuing to review feedback from the FLRAA case.

“I would say that we are obviously learning from that and moving on, and we’ll take all the lessons learned to all of the future opportunities that we bid on,” he said.

Sikorsky’s RAIDER X prototype is 96% complete in the company’s West Palm Beach, FL facility. Lemmo said the prototype is currently undergoing risk-reduction testing, and they hope to fly it by the summer of 2024.

That timing is based on the Improved Turbine Engines being delivered this fall, which have experienced quality-control-related delays, according to Army acquisition chief Doug Bush. Then, additional tests must be conducted once the engines are installed, Lemmo said.

“It’s got to go through a number of ground tests and checkouts, and then we can begin flight checks,” he said.