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Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business has decided not to pursue additional legal action regarding the award of a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) development contract to Bell Textron by the Army Contracting Command – Redstone Arsenal, the company announced on 18 April 2023.

The FLRAA contest saw the SB>1 Defiant compound helicopter pitched by  Sikorsky in partnership with Boeing vying against the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor.

On 5 December 2022 the US Army announced that it had downselected Bell’s V-280 Valor to move the programme forward, but Sikorsky protested the decision on 28 December. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) then denied that protest on 6 April 2023.

The Boeing/Sikorsky SB>1 Defiant compound helicopter (shown) lost out to the Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor in the FLRAA contest. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

“We are disappointed with the Government Accountability Office decision and remain convinced that our Defiant X offering represented both the best value for the taxpayer and the transformational technology that our warfighters need to execute their complex missions,” said a Lockheed Martin Sikorsky statement. “We value our long-standing partnership with the US Army, and serving their missions remains our top priority. We are focused on driving innovation and delivering the transformational Raider X for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft [(FARA) programme], modernized Black Hawks and future technology critical to mission readiness for the United States and Allied nations.”

For the FARA programme Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider X compound coaxial helicopter is again bidding against a Bell platform: the 360 Invictus helicopter. The FARA programme is designed to fill the US Army’s capability gap left by the retirement of the Bell OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopter between 2014 and 2017.

Competitive flight testing of the FARA candidates has been delayed and is currently slated to begin in late 2023 at the earliest.

Peter Felstead