The Government Accountability Office has ruled in favor of BAE Systems’ protest of the Navy’s decision to award the contract for its next generation airborne jammer to Raytheon [RTN], the oversight agency said Wednesday.

The GAO’s determination means the Navy will likely hold a new competition for the $279 million contract awarded to Raytheon in July for the technology development phase of the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ), a program that could reach a value of billions of dollars in further development and eventual production. Northrop Grumman [NOC] also lost the competition but did not lodge a protest.

The Navy plans to install the next generation jammer on its EA-18G electronic attack aircraft (foreground). Photo by Boeing

The GAO concluded that the Navy failed to reasonably evaluate technical risks outlined in the request for proposals, failed to adequately document the evaluation and improperly credited Raytheon with outdated experience. Other aspects of BAE’s protest were rejected but the GAO did not provide details.

“GAO’s decision recommends that the Navy reevaluate proposals and properly document the evaluation record,” Ralph White, head the GAO’s protest office, said. “At the conclusion of the reevaluation, GAO recommends that the Navy make a new source selection decision, and document its cost/technical tradeoff analysis with the rationale for the decision.”

The Navy has 60 days to inform the agency whether it accepts the recommendation. The GAO’s ruling does not require the Navy to re-hold the competition, but the Pentagon typically follows recommendations that come with sustained protests. Navy officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for Raytheon said the firm was evaluating the decision and had no further comment at the time. BAE  released a statement saying it would work with the Navy to ensure a fair evaluation of its proposal.

“We protested the award based on concerns with the Navy’s evaluation of our offering and we are pleased that the GAO has sustained our protest,” the company said. “We look forward to working with the Navy to ensure a fair and open evaluation of our proposal for this important program.”

The GAO did not publicly release the full decision, citing propriety data and other sensitive information that could impact a fresh competition, but expects to issue a redacted version in the near future.

The Navy plans to install the NGJs on its EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. The first installation was scheduled for 2020. The NGJ is to replace the ALQ-99 currently deployed on EA-18Gs and legacy EA-6B Prowlers nearing the end of their service lives.

Northrop Grumman would not say whether it would join a new competition. “We are watching the situation closely and have no further comment at this time,” spokesman Randy Belote said.





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The GAO’s ruling somewhat dampens Raytheon’s recent success in capturing major Navy contracts. The firm last month won the Navy’s contract for its next generation ship-based Air Missile Defense Radar (AMDR). Lockheed Martin [LMT] filed a protest against that award.

The Navy’s acquisition strategy for a new jammer has also received scrutiny from Congress. Following the July award, the Senate Appropriations Committee said the procurement plan is not compliant with acquisition reforms calling for greater competition. The committee said the Navy should hold a continuous competition at least throughout the technology development phase of the program.

The GAO decision came more than two weeks later than originally expected, a delay that resulted from the 16-day government shutdown in October.