Executive Branch Strikes VH-71 Deal
Mar 17, 2008
Michael Bruno and David A. Fulghum/Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Defense officials formally announced March 14 that the White House and Defense Department have agreed to a plan that maintains two VH-71 presidential helicopter replacement program increments, although the White House also has made “compromises” on Increment 1 requirements “to help with cost and schedule issues.”
As I understand it the VH-71 was giving the US-101 an inaccurate negative rap and that was what really sunk LM's bid the first time around, but I don't think especially with consult from the USN that they will be able to come to those same conlusions the second time around.
“Because of cost growth issues and congressional funding cuts,” Increment 2 also is under a stop work order, they said. While the White House has not changed Increment 2 requirements for the 23 helicopters there, no existing medium-lift helo can meet the requirements.
“The original VH-71 program planned to rely on an existing commercial helicopter and make modest modifications,” Young explained.
“The Navy and industry team did not clearly realize the full implications of the White House requirements,” Young said, noting that the program sought to rely on exisiting helos that were modestly modified. “These issues were further complicated by the enforcement of Navy certification requirements on a helicopter designed to commercial aviation standards,” he said. Now, the Navy and industry teams are will complete a “substantial” redesign of the EH-101 base helo to meet Increment 2 requirements.
On 29 March 2007, the GAO found that the Air Force had reasonably determined that Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego’s recent, seriously deficient performance on a highly relevant contract for a similar aircraft warranted a past performance rating of little confidence, notwithstanding that protester also had very good performance on another highly relevant contract.
If you look at how the original bid was scored, if LM had even a satisfactory score on "past performance" it may have even taken the award the first time around. LM even scored an "exceptional" rating on product support (ironic given their "little confidence" rating for past performance,) versus Boeing and Sikorsky's bids.
I'd also like to see the tangible and specific differences in alleged performance where the US-101 and H-92 were only given an acceptable block 10 performance rating but the HH-47 was rated "exceptional" - there is nothing that the HH-47 does in a CSAR role that the US-101 cannot do and in many ways do it with more reliablility and easier maintainability.
Given the huge MPLCC advantage of the US-101 which may even be greater now that LM wanted more accurate life cycles costs taken into account, combined with what should be an equal rating on past performance now that the VH-71 woes have been absolved, added with the combat experince thus gained by British crews in Iraq, I'm thinking the LM US-101 has a strong chance to get the award.
Throw in a Boeing KC-X award protest in direct opposistion to the USAF's wishes and who knows, perhaps they will no longer be so kind to the HH-47 2 hours and 58 minutes time to get the bird back into the air after C-5/C-17 transport; both the US-101 and H-92 could meet the goal of 2 hours and the HH-47 could barely make the absolute time limit!