A federal judge on Monday ruled in favor of the Air Force in the Three Dimensional Long Range Radar (3DELRR) lawsuit, according to a service spokesman.

The ruling clears the way for the Air Force to recompete the 3DELRR award. Air Force spokesman Justin Oakes said Tuesday in an email that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruling allows the service to re-enter source selection for 3DELRR and take corrective actions. The Air Force decided to re-open 3DELRR to competition after previously awarding the contract to Raytheon [RTN], which sued the Air Force after it decided to take corrective action.

Lockheed Martin's 3DELRR prototype. Photo: Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin’s 3DELRR prototype. Photo: Lockheed Martin.

Oakes said the Air Force had previously issued a stop work order to Raytheon when the contract went into protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in October. The ruling could be considered victories for Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Lockheed Martin [LMT], which served as defendant-interveners in the lawsuit, and a setback for Raytheon. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin protested with GAO after losing out on the 3DELRR contract.

Northrop Grumman argued in a May 7 redacted court filing that the Air Force’s 3DELRR procurement was fundamentally flawed in several ways: one was that the service gave offerors materially different instructions regarding how the agency would evaluate and score their proposals. Northrop Grumman said, faced with this “evident unfairness,” and with a strong indication that GAO agreed the provision of materially different instructions was impermissible, the Air Force’s decision to take corrective action was “eminently reasonable” and “completely consistent” with the basic tenants of the procurement system.

Northrop Grumman said the Air Force’s decision came near the conclusion of GAO protests in which the company and Lockheed Martin demonstrated numerous flaws in the service’s award. During the protest hearing, Northrop Grumman said, the Air Force’s contracting officer acknowledged that the service had changed its view, contained in a note to Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, as to how it would assess proposed independent research and development (IR&D) cost reductions, but had communicated that change only to Raytheon and not to Northrop Grumman.

In light of that testimony and other record support, Northrop Grumman said, GAO indicated in a non-binding outcome prediction session that it was likely to sustain the protests. The Air Force then decided to reopen discussions with all three offerors and to evaluate new technical and cost/price proposals.

Raytheon spokesman Michael Nachshen on Tuesday declined to comment. A clerk with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Tuesday said Tuesday’s order, which was issued under seal, could be unsealed sometime after May 29. Reuters first reported the news Tuesday that an order was made Monday in the 3DELRR case.

The Air Force in October awarded Raytheon an initial $19.5 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase that includes three radars. With additional options, the contract could reach a value of $72 million while some analysts speculate that the total value of the program could eventually exceed $1 billion

The radar system is designed to detect and track hostile aircraft or missions at long range and is to replace the AN/TPS-75 air defense radar originally supplied by Northrop Grumman (Defense Daily, Jan. 21).