WASHINGTON — Boeing late last week took the next step in its protest of the US Air Force's decision to award the Long Range Strike-Bomber to Northrop Grumman, saying the service's selection process was "irreparably flawed."

The Air Force had until Dec. 6 to file a report to the Government Accountability Office on Boeing's protest of the award. In response, Boeing on Dec. 17 submitted a 133-page brief to the GAO reaffirming its argument that the selection process for the LRS-B was "fundamentally flawed."

"The Boeing and Lockheed Martin team believe that the Air Force's selection process was irreparably flawed and therefore have decided to continue with their protest before the GAO," according to a Dec. 18 Boeing statement.

Boeing, which along with partner Lockheed Martin submitted the losing bid, takes issue with the cost evaluation performed by the government, saying it did not properly reward the team's cost-savings initiatives, and did not properly evaluate the comparative risk of Northrop's ability to perform.

The GAO has until Feb. 14 to issue a decision.

Northrop Grumman also filed comments with the GAO in support of the Air Force's contract award, according to a Dec. 19 statement from company spokesman Randy Belote. Northrop is now "even more confident" that the Air Force followed a careful selection process in picking a winner, Belote said.

"Northrop Grumman remains confident that we offered an inherently more affordable solution, reflecting our long and successful record of innovation, and that the GAO will affirm the Air Force's decision," Belote said. "The Air Force made the right choice in selecting Northrop Grumman to produce America's new bomber and we look forward to getting back to work to fulfill this vital mission."

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com.

Twitter: @laraseligman

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