BAE prevails in protest of Raytheon jammers win

BAE Systems has prevailed in its protest of a Navy decision to award the next generation jammer contract to Raytheon. The win had put Raytheon on track for billions in follow-on work, but now source selection will start over.

The Government Accountability Office wants the Navy to go back to the drawing board and revisit its award decision for a lucrative next generation jammer contract.

Raytheon won the initial $279 million contract for the development phase of the radar-jamming system in July, besting teams led by Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

But BAE filed a protest, which GAO has sustained on several counts. The watchdog agency found that the Navy failed to reasonably evaluate technical risk, failed to adequately document its evaluation and improperly credited Raytheon with outdated experience. There were other parts of BAE's protest that GAO denied, according to a GAO statement.

GAO is recommending that the Navy reevaluate proposals and properly document the evaluation record. After that evaluation, the Navy should make a new source selection decision and document its cost/technical tradeoff analysis with the rationale for the decision.

The win had put Raytheon in line for a $3.1 billion advanced development contract and a $4.3 billion production contract if it performed well on the initial development phase.

In addition to the BAE protest, there also were concerns raised on Capitol Hill that the program was too important to leave in the hands of a single contractor.

The jammer system will replace the current systems on the EA-18G Growler aircraft, which use technology dating back to the Vietnam War. The purpose of the jammers is to suppress the radar and communications systems used by adversaries.

The older technology is having trouble keeping up with new systems that can hop among radio frequencies and radar systems that are more agile. The older jammers don’t have the power, precision and responsiveness to suppress all electronic threats, according to a Forbes article.

There is also some concern that if the United States doesn’t move forward with the development of the next generation jammers, the country may face challenges as China is expected to use “anti-access/area denial” tactics to exclude U.S. forces from the region, according to Forbes contributor Loren Thompson.

GAO is not releasing its written decision at this time because of the large amounts of proprietary information it contains.