WASHINGTON — The Government Accountability Office has denied protests from Boeing and Bombardier on the Air Force’s Compass Call crossdeck program, likely solidifying L3 Technologies as the systems integrator of the program.
GAO on Aug. 25 posted notices on its website that it had denied legal challenges from both companies. Further information about the decision was unavailable because the protests are covered by a protective order, meaning that a public report must be redacted before being released.
Both Boeing and Bombardier took issue with the Air Force’s acquisition strategy for the Compass Call crossdeck program. Instead of procuring a successor to the EC-130H Compass Call, the service planned to enlist a “systems integrator” — in this case, L3 — that would transfer the existing electronic warfare systems from the EC-130H to a new airframe.
The systems integrator would also be responsible for determining which aerospace manufacturer would provide the new Compass Call airframe, a detail that rankled the companies, which alleged that L3 would favor Gulfstream.
As the legal dispute played out behind the scenes, Air Force officials maintained that their acquisition strategy would provide the fastest, most effective way to update the Compass Call fleet.
“L3 has played that role as the systems integrator as we have modernized these aircraft for the last 15 years. They are the ones that are very familiar with the mission equipment that is on there,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official, told lawmakers May 25.
“That mission equipment is highly classified to be able to execute the electronic warfare mission that we ask that platform to do. They have all the tooling, they have all the existing knowledge, and they have the modeling and all the information to do that work.”
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.