Huey replacement program delayed, GAO rejects Sikorsky protest

The Air Force had planned to award a contract for the UH-1N Huey replacement program sometime this month, but that has been pushed into the fall.

The Air Force is working to replace the Huey fleet of 84 helicopters, which are primarily used to augment security in the missile fields of Malmstrom, Minot and F.E. Warren AFBs. Those bases operate and maintain a combined 450 intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities and 45 missile alert facilities.

Sikorsky files protest in Huey replacement program

Initial operational fielding of the new helicopters is planned to start in fiscal year 2020 or 2021, after a period of developmental and operations tests, an Air Force spokeswoman told The Electric last summer.

The program is capped at $4.1 billion and includes production and sustainment transition support.

Three companies bid for Huey replacement program

Earlier this year, Sikorsky filed a pre-award protest with the Government Accountability Office claiming the Air Force’s requirement to own the technical baseline on contracts is overreaching. The Air Force wants that baseline so that it can then compete future upgrades instead of sticking with the original prime contractor.

At the end of May, the GAO denied the protest in part, and dismissed it in part.

[READ: GAO decision on the Sikorsky protest]

At the end of May, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson spoke at the Atlantic Council and said the protest delayed the process but it’s moving forward again.

“We know we need to get the Huey’s replaced,” she said.

Final RFP issued in search for Huey replacement, including those at Malmstrom

Initially, some members of Congress pushed to use an existing Army contract to replace the fleet and the Air Force attempted to use the Economy Act to sole source the replacement. But other members of Congress and the service’s legal advisors determined that an open competition was required. The Economy Act would have require the Joint Chiefs of Staff to state an urgent need for the procurement, Air Force officials told The Electric, and that hadn’t happened.