The US Air Force will reevaluate its decision to award Raytheon a major radar contract, following protests by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, the service confirmed Wednesday.
The Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) was awarded to Raytheon on Oct. 6 of last year over competitors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. On Oct. 21, Northrop filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), followed a day later by Lockheed.
In a statement attributed to Lt. Col. Kevin Sellers, 3DELRR program manager, the Air Force confirmed a Reuters report that it was reevaluating the contract to award to Raytheon.
"Based on feedback received from the Government Accountability Office regarding the protests, we agreed to re-enter source selection to conduct another round of discussions regarding the technical evaluation and pricing analysis," Seller said in the statement.
"Depending on the responses, the additional discussions may result in a new source selection decision," Sellers continued. "We anticipate this process to take approximately four months."
A service spokesman confirmed that the process could result in a total recompete which could include a new bid.
The timing of the Air Force's announcement, days ahead of the end of a 100-day protest time period in which GAO has to award a decision on contract protests, may indicate the service believed it would lose the protest. In such cases, the government will often pull the contract on its own rather than have GAO rule against it.
3DELRR aims to replace the service's aging TPS-75 expeditionary radars with 35 new systems. The system was the first to be awarded under the Pentagon's Defense Exportability Features Initiative, which aims to bake in exportability to defense programs at the early stages of development.
This $19 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract covers the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the program, procurement of three radar systems.
The total contract, including all options, is estimated by the Air Force at $71 million and "includes the procurement of an additional three radar systems, for a total of six radar systems and product support," according to an announcement of the contract award.
The winner of the contract will also have a leg up on the potentially lucrative international radar market.
Unsurprisingly, both Lockheed and Northrop were enthusiastic about the decision.
"We are pleased that the Air Force has indicated it will take corrective action to ensure a robust competition that should enable the Department to obtain the best solution for our warfighters," Randy Belote, spokesman for Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. "We remain confident in Northrop Grumman's ability to offer a capability that meets the Air Force's critical mission requirements at an affordable cost."
"We are pleased that the U.S. Air Force will be taking corrective actions to address concerns raised about the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) competition," Lockheed spokeswoman Rashi Ratan wrote in an email. "We look forward to continuing our support of the customer as they develop these next steps."
A spokesman for Raytheon said the company is evaluating its options, but "remains confident" in its solution.
UPDATED 1/22/15 - This story has been updated with additional information from the US Air Force.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.