Army lifts stop-work order on FLRAA following GAO ruling

By Dan Schere  / April 11, 2023

The Army has lifted a stop-work order on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, the eventual replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, following the Government Accountability Office's ruling last week denying a bid protest that temporarily halted the program's progress.

The Army awarded the FLRAA contract to Bell, owned by Textron, in early December, which has a projected total contract value of about $7 billion, over competitor Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin. Sikorsky then filed a protest with GAO on Dec. 28, arguing the “data and discussions” led the company to believe the proposals were “not consistently evaluated to deliver the best value.” GAO announced on April 6 that it had denied Sikorsky’s protest.

A full GAO report will be released publicly once proprietary information has been redacted.

A spokesman for the Army’s program executive office for aviation wrote in an email to Inside Defense Tuesday that “FLRAA [Project Management Office] has lifted the stop work with our selected industry partner, Bell-Textron, as of 10 April.”

Although FLRAA will eventually replace the Black Hawk, the Army will continue flying Black Hawks beyond 2030 after the new aircraft enter service.

Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo told reporters Tuesday morning following an event hosted by the Association of the United States Army that the service plans to move forward on the program following GAO’s ruling.

“We had to stop executing on the program [during the protest], so now that we’re past that process we remain hopeful that we’ll pick up where we left off,” he said.

The Connecticut congressional delegation, where Sikorsky is based, has stated repeatedly that it wants answers from the Army on how the service made its decision in selecting Bell. The Army’s PEO for aviation released a statement to Inside Defense Tuesday stating that “we are working with the appropriate committees and subcommittees to ensure that lawmakers and the professional staffs receive updates on the FLRAA source selection decision.”