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V-280 wins US ARMY FLRAA contract

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V-280 wins US ARMY FLRAA contract

Old 14th Apr 2023, 22:17
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https://www.gao.gov/assets/820/818991.pdf

Here is the full GAO report for public consumption. I know this forum probably wants to read the juicy details of an evaluation between a thrust compounded, coaxial rigid rotor aircraft and a tilt rotor, but those arguments aren't what decided this competition. The document is a dense read if you're not versed in the language of model based systems engineering and federal acquisition regulations but it boils down to one key issue:

Boeing/Sikorsky didn't complete their homework. They didn't read the rules of the assignment correctly and didn't do the work correctly. They asked questions for clarification, were given answers consistent with the assignment and then, inexplicably, decided to TURN IN LESS HOMEWORK in a critical area than their first submission. Because their submission lacked the detail to convince the USG that Boeing/Sikorsky understood the interplay of requirements, subsystem functions, and the rest of the elements of the systems engineering model, it was marked as "unacceptable" and they could not be awarded the contract.

Even though there was a significant cost difference between the proposals, without a complete system model, the Army couldn't evaluate if Boeing/Sikorsky's price was realistic or not... and it didn't matter because their submitted proposal was technically unacceptable.

Cutting through the jargon, it's a brutal document and not centered around any of the relative strengths/weaknesses of the aircraft concepts that have been discussed ad nauseam on these pages and others.

Last edited by SplineDrive; 14th Apr 2023 at 22:54.
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Old 15th Apr 2023, 02:03
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Synopsis GAO Decision

Thanks for the GAO link Spline Drive. The following table from the GAO report provides a good insight to Sikorsky’s proposal content quality.


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Old 17th Apr 2023, 13:07
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I read the GAO document, which is difficult to understand in a number of places without the RFP at hand. Disclaimer; I was completely out of the loop with re to any efforts at SA with re to this project.
Going back to our efforts to respond to the Army’s UTTAS RFP however, I was of course deeply involved in that effort. The GAO protest assessment shocked me. The direction in place for the team working the UTTAS RFP response was simple and direct: we will take zero deviations from the Army’s stated requirements in the RFP. Now, that was challenging as that RFP was in reality a design spec-very detailed. In the final analysis, I recall we did take 10 minor deviations-cases where one spec requirement conflicted with another so you couldn’t meet both. The Army was okay with those, and in any case they were minutiae.
But that was 50 years ago, with a completely different leadership group, both at UTC corporate and at Sikorsky.
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Old 17th Apr 2023, 16:26
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From another forum "I think its much more about the adoption of open systems architecture which was viewed as an essential requirement by government for through life, cost effective support. Sikorsky didn't seem to want to offer this - its a different business model that potentially has less down stream income." and "I recall senior executives stating the explicit point of LM buying sikorsky was to get the helicopter systems integration business, and not the helicopter sales business"
True or not? In any case, Sikorsky gave away half the replacement Black Hawk business when they partnered with Boeing. The dumbest business move since New Coke.


"Raider at 10,000 lb gross weight with a 2600 HP YT706 hit 207 knots. Raider-X at probably 16,000 lb will go how fast with a 3000 HP ITE and more fuselage and hub drag? The FARA min requirement was 180 knots and that might be all Raider-X can do." and "Bell is using the PW207D1 engine from its civil 429 helicopter as an APU,. but can also use it to provide some additional power when a boost is needed"

Bell is using a second 625 hp engine for FARA. Sikorsky will have less power, and a heavier aircraft. I can't see Sikorsky winning FARA, since the only thing X2 technology potentially offered was higher speed.

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Old 17th Apr 2023, 18:51
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Originally Posted by JohnDixson
But that was 50 years ago, with a completely different leadership group, both at UTC corporate and at Sikorsky.
John, not only has Sikorsky as a company changed substantially over the past 50 years, so have Boeing and Bell.

A major reason Bell lost UTTAS program to Sikorsky, was Bell became complacent, and believed that as the current aircraft provider they were entitled to winning.

Often history repeats itself. Same story, but with players changing roles.

What struck me most regarding the GAO report, was the obvious attempt by Sikorsky/Boeing to win the contract by low balling the bid. The US Army understood full well, that if the contract got a canceled due to cost overruns, their only option would be to continue building the Blackhawk.

Even when disregarding the fact that the Bell tiltrotor is a lower risk and more mature technology compared to Sikorsky X-2 technology, the overall complexity of both aircraft is relatively equal. These bids should’ve been very close to each other.

Plus, does anybody believe that it is cheaper to develop and manufacture an aircraft in PA and CT versus TX?

Last edited by CTR; 17th Apr 2023 at 19:56.
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Old 18th Apr 2023, 12:23
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Good post CTR. Re the location impact on development/production cost: you know, when the purchase of Sikorsky by LM surfaced, I thought that eventually LM might well move SA from CT to their Marietta campus, which has the space, right to work state etc.
Re Bell UTTAS proposal: may I use an another term, and apply it to the 1972 Bell RFP response and the SA 2023 response. “ corporate egomania “ i.e., we know better than you, Army. In 1972 Bell proposed the King Cobra teetering main rotor, in spite of the Army’s inclusion of the “ UTTAS Maneuver “ in the RFP, which was beyond that rotors ability, so they didn’t get into the fly-off stage, and in 2023 the SA/LM management essentially told the Army they really didn’t need MOSA-we know better, and the results of that approach ensued.
One wonders if the level of verbiage in the GAO protest denial will result in some changes at SA/LM?
In any event, it has the makings for a great Harvard B-School case study.
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Old 18th Apr 2023, 13:23
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Originally Posted by JohnDixson
Re Bell UTTAS proposal: may I use an another term, and apply it to the 1972 Bell RFP response and the SA 2023 response. “ corporate egomania “ i.e., we know better than you, Army.
I like that term “corporate egomania”. If you don’t mind, I may steal it to use at a later date. That is also an excellent term of what happened while I was at McDonnell Douglas St. Louis during the ATF proposal in 1985. You will recall the ATF (resulting in the F-22) was the replacement for the F-15.

McDonnell, after reading the Air Force’s RFP reached the conclusion that a single aircraft could not meet all of the Air Force requirements. Therefore, they submitted multiple proposals for different configuration aircraft, each design to meet a portion of the requirements.

Again a case of the manufacturer, telling the customer they are stupid, so we will tell you what you actually want.

I mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating.

The Defiant team comprised Lockheed and Boeing, the two largest US defense contractors, with combined yearly earnings of over 100 billion dollars. They were beaten for the FLRAA contract by Bell Textron, with yearly earnings of less than 5 billion dollars.


Last edited by CTR; 19th Apr 2023 at 13:58.
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Old 18th Apr 2023, 16:22
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Originally Posted by CTR
The team comprised of the number one and number two defense contractors in the United States, Lockheed and Boeing, were beaten for the FLRAA contract by Bell Textron. Textron is ranked at between 14 and 39 in size, depending on what source you’re looking at.
Turns out, it doesn’t take massive resources to follow the instructions of an RFP and complete the requested deliverables, but it does require humility to accept feedback and make course corrections.

MOSA was never just about radios and mission equipment packages, its also about lower level mechanical and electrical subsystems of the vehicle itself.
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Old 18th Apr 2023, 19:47
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MOSA

Very revealing to now re read this Breaking Defense article on MOSA from 2021.

https://breakingdefense.com/2021/10/...ircraft/?amp=1


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Old 18th Apr 2023, 21:46
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I will admit, I am surprised.

https://insidedefense.com/insider/lo...protest-ruling

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Old 18th Apr 2023, 23:03
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Sans,

I am surprised also. I wonder if Boeing is going to continue the protest alone, or are they required to proceed together?

thank you for the link to the article. I especially like the doublespeak made by the Lockheed CFO explaining how they were able to bid half as much as Bell, and still make a profit.

It reminds me of the car dealer who said every car sold was below his cost, but he made up the difference in volume sold.

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Old 18th Apr 2023, 23:42
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Originally Posted by JohnDixson
One wonders if the level of verbiage in the GAO protest denial will result in some changes at SA/LM?
In any event, it has the makings for a great Harvard B-School case study.
If there is a Harvard Business Review study of this disaster, I'll get a copy and put it next to my copy of Ray Leoni's "Black Hawk: Story of a World Class Helicopter".

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Old 20th Apr 2023, 05:15
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Sans and CTR.

Not that surprising. Boeing/LM's protest was basically, "Army didn't play fair and if you marked us down you should have marked Bell down as well". GAO said, "No, Army played fair and they didn't mark Bell down because Bell didn't make the mistakes you did". What's left to protest?

Don't feel too bad for LM. Don't forget they have a major role on the V-280.
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Old 21st Apr 2023, 05:10
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Originally Posted by CTR
With the Chinook and Apache continuing production, for at least another decade, Boeing Philadelphia will continue to survive. However, Boeing has already lost all their engineering capability to develop new modern platforms. So it will be a slow death until these aircraft are replaced by newer models designed by either Sikorsky or Bell. If Boeing is part of a team in a replacement Chinook or Apache aircraft, it will only be in a manufacturing role.
It's arguable that Boeing never had engineering capability to develop new modern platforms. No helicopter of their own original design has eve rentered production. All their craft that entered service were designed by someone else and Boeing later acquired the company. In fact only for airframes of one of their own design ever even flew, and its rotor design benefited from Boeing's license production of the MBB Bo 105.
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Old 21st Apr 2023, 14:27
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That may be too harsh an assessment of Boeing engineering capabilities. Comanche and Defiant never reached production, but Boeing, partnered with Sikorsky, had substantial design responsibility. Defiant could potentially be sold as an Apache replacement. Heck, even companies such as AVX can design a modern helicopter.

One can say Lockheed has never created a modern helicopter, but Sikorsky is still there. Boeing acquired Mesa, but the organization was still there. If Boeing acquires Textron, Bell would still exist.

Last edited by noneofyourbusiness; 21st Apr 2023 at 15:05.
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Old 21st Apr 2023, 15:32
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Boeing Helicopter Not Dead

I agree, Boeing Philly is not dead, yet. But their clean sheet, new platform design capabilities are gone. The Comanche was designed over 25 years ago.

Boeing’s primary contribution on FLRAA was political, not technical or financial. Boeing’s lobbyists and PR departments probably billed more hours than their engineering.

Boeing has now lost all hope for any FLRAA content (talk about betting on the wrong horse). Meanwhile, FARA has been delayed, likely grown is size, and probably changed to twin engine. This makes FARA more of a direct competitor to the Boeing Apache, than a Kiowa replacement.

So when the final FARA RFP is released, this contract may become a three way competition between Sikorsky, Bell, and Boeing. With Boeing proposing an upgraded Apache.

Regarding Boeing acquiring Bell, or Textron. Scary thought.

Last edited by CTR; 21st Apr 2023 at 16:07.
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Old 21st Apr 2023, 20:11
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Originally Posted by CTR
I agree, Boeing Philly is not dead, yet. But their clean sheet, new platform design capabilities are gone. The Comanche was designed over 25 years ago.

Boeing’s primary contribution on FLRAA was political, not technical or financial. Boeing’s lobbyists and PR departments probably billed more hours than their engineering.

Boeing has now lost all hope for any FLRAA content (talk about betting on the wrong horse). Meanwhile, FARA has been delayed, likely grown is size, and probably changed to twin engine. This makes FARA more of a direct competitor to the Boeing Apache, than a Kiowa replacement.

So when the final FARA RFP is released, this contract may become a three way competition between Sikorsky, Bell, and Boeing. With Boeing proposing an upgraded Apache.

Regarding Boeing acquiring Bell, or Textron. Scary thought.
I was working for Sikorsky at the time at an offsite location. I never worked this project. The work split with Bpeing was 50-50. Blades Boeing, rotors Sikorsky, transmissions Boeing., and so forth. From my limited viewpoint, all the feedback regarding Boeing engineering was good, I never heard anything negative.
This is news to me if the Army is considering going to twin engine on the FARA, this would be a total melt and repour. Politically FARA would be dead, as bean counters in DOD prefer drones over a manned reconnaissance helicopter. The delay and added cost would be fatal? If FARA is dropped and a replacement for Apache pursued instead, there could be a three way competition. As the Army has rejected the idea of adding a pusher prop to the Apache, this might be a rematch of Valor and Defiant.

It is scary, but my gut feel is the big three will become two, in whatever combination, over the next few years. More likely Boeing sells helicopters to Lockheed.

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Old 22nd Apr 2023, 00:46
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Originally Posted by noneofyourbusiness
I was working for Sikorsky at the time at an offsite location. I never worked this project. The work split with Bpeing was 50-50. Blades Boeing, rotors Sikorsky, transmissions Boeing., and so forth. From my limited viewpoint, all the feedback regarding Boeing engineering was good, I never heard anything negative…...
noneofyourbusines,

If you’re referring to Boeing‘s participation on the Comanche, I agree, they were an added engineering asset, especially for flight control systems. However, that was 25 years ago. From everything I’ve been told by my acquaintances at Sikorsky, engineering support by Boeing on FLRAA was negative value added.
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Old 22nd Apr 2023, 19:53
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Originally Posted by CTR
noneofyourbusines,

If you’re referring to Boeing‘s participation on the Comanche, I agree, they were an added engineering asset, especially for flight control systems. However, that was 25 years ago. From everything I’ve been told by my acquaintances at Sikorsky, engineering support by Boeing on FLRAA was negative value added.
Take this for what it's worth, but I have heard from multiple sources that when it was announced at Bell that Boeing would not be a partner on Valor, there was actual cheering.
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Old 22nd Apr 2023, 20:17
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Originally Posted by CTR
I agree, Boeing Philly is not dead, yet. But their clean sheet, new platform design capabilities are gone. The Comanche was designed over 25 years ago.

Boeing’s primary contribution on FLRAA was political, not technical or financial. Boeing’s lobbyists and PR departments probably billed more hours than their engineering.

Boeing has now lost all hope for any FLRAA content (talk about betting on the wrong horse). Meanwhile, FARA has been delayed, likely grown is size, and probably changed to twin engine. This makes FARA more of a direct competitor to the Boeing Apache, than a Kiowa replacement.

So when the final FARA RFP is released, this contract may become a three way competition between Sikorsky, Bell, and Boeing. With Boeing proposing an upgraded Apache.

Regarding Boeing acquiring Bell, or Textron. Scary thought.
Originally Posted by noneofyourbusiness
That may be too harsh an assessment of Boeing engineering capabilities. Comanche and Defiant never reached production, but Boeing, partnered with Sikorsky, had substantial design responsibility. Defiant could potentially be sold as an Apache replacement. Heck, even companies such as AVX can design a modern helicopter.

One can say Lockheed has never created a modern helicopter, but Sikorsky is still there. Boeing acquired Mesa, but the organization was still there. If Boeing acquires Textron, Bell would still exist.
For the record, both FARA competitors say they are ready to go. The delay is with the engine being delivered. As far as growing in size or adding an engine, haven't seen any indication of that. That would be a reboot of the whole program. OTOH, multiple sources say that FARA as specified can't be built, so there are going to have to be some changes somewhere.

Defiant-X as an Apache replacement would be a non-starter. If you're going to go that route, an attack version of Valor would be a lot cheaper and arguably better. A number of companies can design a modern helicopter, the question is can you build and fly a successful one? Boeing and AVX, among others, never have.

One difference is that United Aircraft wanted to divest Sikorsky. It went to Lockheed because the gov't made antitrust noises regarding a Bell-Sikorsky company and at first the only companies interested in acquiring Sikorsky were European and the concept of a foreign country acquiring a major US defense airframe manufacturer did not bode well. Lockheed's riding in as a White Knight brought relief to a lot of places. As far as I can tell, Textron is quite happy with Bell and are not themselves looking to be bought by anyone.
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