It appears military aviation contracts of late are delayed, disputed, investigate for fraud, threatened with Congressional action, and in most cases doubled in price by the time the craft ever gets off the ground. A really sorry state of affairs!!!
Helicopter Contract Delayed Again
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Publication date: 2008-04-15
By Henry J. Holcomb, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Apr. 15–The long-anticipated awarding of a $10 billion contract for a military search-and-rescue helicopter has been delayed again – from July to October – to comply with changes in the law restricting use of imported specialty metals.
Boeing said yesterday that it had received a draft of the new bid proposal, called Amendment 6, in what the Air Force calls its CSAR-X competition.
This has evolved into a bitter competition involving three big defense contractors, all with major operations in the Philadelphia area.
In 2006, a new model of the Philadelphia-built Boeing Chinook won the initial competition. The victory promised future orders for 144 helicopters and as many as 400 new jobs at the Boeing Co. plant in Ridley Township, Delaware County.
But objections from rivals – Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. – persuaded the Government Accountability Office to order a new round of bidding and revised specifications.
Boeing responded to that request in January, saying it remained confident that it would win again. Boeing continues to tout that its entry is similar to models that are already flying combat missions and has no untested high-risk technology.
The latest draft of the bid request, which incorporates changes in the law on the use of specialty metals, was issued last week. Boeing said yesterday that it would submit comments and questions today.
Boeing said the drive shaft, transmission, leading edges of the blades, and other critical parts contained high-strength steels, titanium and other specialty metals.
It could not say how much foreign specialty metal is used in its CSAR-X entry or the Army CH-47 F and G models, which it builds in the suburbs of Philadelphia for transport and special-operations missions. The United States has long sought to use domestic sources for those metals.
The Boeing entry uses two rotors, working in tandem – technology invented in suburban Philadelphia by helicopter pioneer Frank N. Piasecki, who died Feb. 11.
The rivals are single-rotor aircraft: Sikorsky H-92 Superhawk and Lockheed Martin US101, which is based on a design developed in Europe. The US101 has been selected for the new “Marine One” presidential helicopters and is destined to replace the aging Sikorsky VH-3D Sea Kings in that role.
Building helicopters is a growing part of the Philadelphia region’s economy. Boeing, Sikorsky (West Chester), and AgustaWestland (Northeast Philadelphia Airport) manufacture various models of five types of helicopters here. In addition, Piasecki Aircraft Corp. (Essington, Delaware County) develops new rotary-wing technology.
Lockheed Martin helicopters are built elsewhere, in partnership with other firms.
Contact staff writer Henry J. Holcomb at 215-854-2614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see more of The Philadelphia Inquirer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to philly.com.
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Publication date: 2008-04-15