$3.3B Rebid for C-130 Avionics
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) recently decided to recompete the lion’s share of a $4 billion contract to update guidance, navigation, communications systems, and cockpit displays for about 670 C-130 Hercules medium transport aircraft. Michael Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force, announced his decision in an April 26, 2005 letter to U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, two months after a government agency concluded that the 2001 contract award was tainted by service-acquisition chief Darleen Druyun.
Pentagon officials said on Feb. 14, 2005 that Druyun, who went to work for Boeing in January 2003 and also secured jobs for family members in return for influence over military procurement decisions, may have improperly influenced up to eight contracts.
The C-130 contract was awarded four years ago to Boeing Corp., but the Congressional Government Accountability Office reviewed protests filed by Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, and BAE Systems in the wake of Druyan’s courtroom confessions, and recommended recompetition of at least the installation phase. The USAF’s decision goes much further, rebidding both the larger contract for the production of kits and the one-third contractor share of kit installation – a total package estimated at $3.3 billion.
Boeing is continuing with development and testing of the upgrade kits – a contract phase valued at about $1 billion. Neither the GAO nor the Air Force believed that part of the program could be recompeted. Boeing has scheduled the first flight of an upgraded C-130 early next year, with 11 aircraft included in the development and “kitproofing” stage.
These measures will also delay the start of initial work from 2007, while full scale installations and accompanying employment ramp-ups at Robins Air Force Base, GA and Hill Air Force Base, UT will be pushed back from 2009 by an indeterminate amount. The need for testing to be complete, and for a production ready suite of modifications with all diagrams and specifications before recompetition can begin, will probably push the recompetition itself back to 2009-2010.
The C-130 is one of the world’s most widely used aircraft, with about 1,400 in service worldwide.
Additional Readings & Sources:
- Macon Telegraph: Air Force to rebid avionics contract
- Bloomberg News: Boeing Must Try again for C-130 Work