The Army on Monday officially lifted its ‘stop work’ order for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program, the service’s Program Executive Office-Aviation confirmed, which follows the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) decision last week denying Sikorsky’s [LMT] protest of the contract award to Bell [TXT].

“We acknowledge and appreciate the GAO’s thorough review and decision to uphold our decision to award the FLRAA Weapon System Development contract to Bell Textron. We look forward to reviewing the full GAO report,” PEO Aviation said in a statement to

Defense Daily on Tuesday.

The Bell V-280 Valor. (Bell Flight)
The Bell V-280 Valor. (Bell Flight)

Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft design was named the winner of the FLRAA competition on Dec. 5, beating out a Sikorsky and Boeing [BA] team’s Defiant X coaxial rigid rotor helicopter offering for the program to find an eventual UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter replacement (Defense Daily, Dec. 5).

Sikorsky then filed a protest with the GAO in late December, which stopped Bell’s work on the program while the agency considered the challenge to the contract award.

The GAO announced its decision denying Sikorsky’s protest on April 6, concluding “the Army reasonably evaluated Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable because Sikorsky failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the [Request for Proposal]” (Defense Daily, April 6). 

Following the GAO’s announcement, Sikorsky and Boeing said the companies would “review the GAO’s decision and determine our next steps.”

Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo was asked by reporters on Tuesday if the service is expecting a follow-up lawsuit with the Federal Claims Court challenging the protest outcome, potentially leading to another pause on the program.

“It’s always possible. Any GAO decision could be appealed in the Court of Federal Claims. Certainly, that’s anybody’s entitlement in the process. And certainly, if it were litigated and if there was some kind of a stop in the program, it would have a corresponding effect on our ability to execute. We’re prepared to respond in any contingency. But in the meantime, we’re going to plan as though we’re moving forward on the program given the GAO’s recent decision,” Camarillo said following his remarks at an Association of the United States Army event. 

Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, told reporters at the time of the contract announcement in December the service factored a potential protest of the award into its planned program timeline.

The Army’s initial FLRAA deal to Bell is worth up to $1.3 billion but could total $7 billion if all options are picked up, which would include delivery of prototype aircraft and the first lot of low-rate initial production platforms (Defense Daily, Dec. 6).