WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force expects to complete a reevaluation of bids to build a $1 billion long-range radar system in about three months, after Raytheon Co lost a legal bid to halt the review, the top Air Force acquisition official said Friday.
Assistant Secretary William LaPlante told reporters that the Air Force would clarify the technology readiness level required for one aspect of the new radar and ask all three bidders to resubmit their proposals.
"It's really not that complicated," LaPlante said after a speech hosted by the Air Force Association.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Raytheon in January aimed at halting a fresh look at the bids submitted by its losing rivals Northrop Grumman Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Northrop and Lockheed had protested the Air Force's October contract award to Raytheon to develop and build 30 Three Dimension Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) systems to replace the Air Force's current TPS-75 radar, which has been in service since the late 1960s.
The primary transportable aerospace control and warning radar used by the Air Force, the existing system can be torn down and transported via trucks or C-130 transport planes. The next generation radar now under consideration must be able to perform a similar function.
Raytheon, which has 60 days to appeal the court's decision, has said it is considering its options.
LaPlante said the Air Force decided to take corrective action earlier this year rather than wait for a ruling from the Government Accountability Office to address GAO's concerns about the technology readiness requirements in the original terms of the competition.
He defended the Air Force's overall record on acquisitions, and said officials at Hanscom Air Force Base, who handled the 3DELRR competition, had no contract protests sustained in the past 10 years.
LaPlante said the GAO did not formally sustain the 3DELRR protests since the Air Force opted to take corrective action.
GAO officials say a growing number of government agencies are opting for contract reviews in recent years rather than waiting for the GAO, a congressional agency, to rule on protests.
LaPlante said 140 protests were lodged last year against over 100,000 contracts awarded by the Air Force, and only two were upheld, or sustained by the GAO. The Air Force took corrective action on 20 of the cases, he said.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Plumb