This story was updated on June 8, 2017, at 12:05 p.m. EST with a statement from Bombardier.
WASHINGTON — The Air Force's Compass Call cross deck program has yet another protest to contend with, this time from Bombardier.
Despite two legal challenges to the program, the Air Force intends to stay the course on its current acquisition strategy, said Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the service's uniformed head of acquisition.
"Boeing has announced their protest, and Bombardier has filed a protest as well," he told reporters Wednesday after a House Armed Services Committee hearing. "They are both in protest now, and we still remain committed, we believe we've got the right acquisition strategy, we remain committed to the strategy we've got, and we're going to go to try to execute that strategy."
The current plan involves L3 Technologies playing a "systems integrator" role where it would be responsible for moving the electronic warfare and missions systems from the legacy EC-130H aircraft to a new airframe, which the company — not the Air Force — would select.
The Government Accountability Office website shows that Bombardier lodged a protest against the Air Force on May 26. The office will have three months to make a decision.
In an emailed statement, Stéphane Villeneuve, Bombardier's vice president of specialized aircraft, said the company decided to challenge the procurement because it believes the acquisition strategy is non compliant with U.S. law and contrary to the principles of open competition.
"Bombardier is looking for the chance to compete on a level playing field and put the G6000 head-to-head with other competing products. The platform deserves fair consideration as the best solution supporting the Compass Call mission and ultimately the US war fighter," Villeneuve said.
Bombardier initially protested the EC-130H cross deck in February, but it was dismissed in March because the Air Force hadn’t made a final decision on its acquisition strategy.
After the service approved its current approach, Boeing then filed its own protest on May 19 on the grounds that it "ignore[d] inherent and obvious conflicts of interest."
A company official told Defense News then that Boeing believed that giving L3 Technologies the power to choose an airframe provider would, in turn, give an advantage to Gulfstream. The companies have partnered together on programs such as the JSTARS recap.
On Wednesday, Bunch reiterated the Air Force’s argument that, because L3 had modernized the EC-130s over the years, the company has the necessary experience to complete the crossdeck in the most efficient manner.
"Knowing all of the current mission equipment and the currency of it, the security associated with the mission, and the timeline we need to march to, we still believe having L3 as a systems integrator is the right approach," he said.
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.