A decision from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Sikorsky’s [LMT] protest of the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft award to Bell [TXT] is due by April 7, according to the government watchdog.

After Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky formally filed its protest on Dec. 28, on behalf of its team with Boeing [BA], the GAO has 100 days to consider the challenge.

Sikorsky-Boeing’s Defiant X

“Based on a thorough review of the information and feedback provided by the Army, Lockheed Martin Sikorsky, on behalf of Team Defiant, is challenging the FLRAA decision. The data and discussions lead us to believe the proposals were not consistently evaluated to deliver the best value in the interest of the Army, our soldiers and American taxpayers,” Sikorsky and Boeing wrote in a joint statement on Dec. 28.

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

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). 

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

“Per Army policy, due to ongoing litigations, PEO Aviation is unable to discuss or provide additional details relative to the FLRAA program,” a spokesperson for PEO Aviation told Defense Daily on Tuesday.

The Cowen Washington Research Group wrote that it was not surprised to see Lockheed Martin challenge the FLRAA decision, while noting protests filed with the GAO have an “extremely low success rate” of less than 15 percent.

“Given the value and industrial base implications, Lockheed’s decision is not surprising, although GAO protests have a low success rate,” Cowen wrote in an overview of the protest announcement. “A 100-day protest and a stop-work order will delay the ramp-up on the program, but we do not believe it will significantly limit [Bell’s] progress on the contract over the course of the full year.”