Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy of the U.S. Air Force’s acquisition office, has said the service branch’s decision to award L3 Technologies a contract to perform systems integration work on the Compass Call electronic attack aircraft recapitalization program stems from the company’s familiarity with the mission equipment, Defense News reported Thursday.
The Air Force announced plans earlier this month to authorize L3 to decide on a new aircraft that will replace the military branch’s fleet of EC-130H Compass Call planes and host the 10 existing electronic warfare and mission platforms.
“L3 has played that role as the systems integrator as we have modernized these aircraft for the last 15 years,” Bunch told lawmakers during a congressional hearing Thursday.
“They are the ones that are very familiar with the mission equipment that is on there,” he added.
Bunch noted the service will thoroughly evaluate the aircraft selection process “to ensure that it was comprehensive, impartial and compliant with all the applicable statutes and regulations.”
His remarks came days after Boeing challenged the Air Force’s award of the systems integration contract to L3 through a protest filed with the Government Accountability Office on May 19, Defense One reported Wednesday.
“The Air Force’s approach is inconsistent with Congress’s direction in the 2017 [National Defense Authorization Act] and seems to ignore inherent and obvious conflicts of interest,” Caroline Hutcheson, a spokeswoman for Boeing, said in an email statement.
“We believe that the U.S. Air Force and taxpayer would be best served by a fair and open competition, and that the Air Force can still meet its stated timeline of replacing the aging fleet of EC-130Hs within 10 years,” Hutcheson added.
GAO is expected to decide on the protest by Aug. 28, the report added.