November 28, 2017, Inside Defense, Rachel Karas

Raytheon is protesting the Air Force’s decision to exclude aircraft with the company’s “Archimedes” wide-area surveillance radar from the range of bids the service will consider for the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System recapitalization program, a company spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Raytheon submitted its protest to GAO Nov. 20. The Air Force has 30 days to respond, and the case will be decided by the end of February. Aviation Week first reported on the protest Monday.

“Our radar solution for the JSTARS program offers the Air Force the most mature and capable technology available to meet this urgent need,” Raytheon spokesman B.J. Boling said Monday. “Based on our assessment, the evaluation process had significant flaws, and we have filed a protest accordingly.”

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon matured ground target-tracking radars under contracts worth more than $130 million as part of the Air Force’s process for choosing one to fly on a new fleet of JSTARS aircraft. Risk-reduction work took longer than expected, pushing the start of development into fiscal year 2018. Lawmakers have pushed the Air Force to spend less money on radar risk reduction and focus on other, more complex issues like radar integration.

Now vying for the broader recapitalization effort’s $6.9 billion engineering and manufacturing development contract, Boeing is offering its 737, Lockheed Martin is pitching Bombardier’s Global 6000 with Raytheon, and Northrop is bidding Gulfstream’s G550 with L3 Technologies. Each company offered the Air Force one proposal featuring Northrop’s radar and another with Raytheon’s.

Northrop and the Air Force declined to comment.

“Given its commonality with the DOD’s in-production wide-area surveillance radar, Archimedes is significantly more mature than most development programs at this phase,” according to Raytheon’s website. “That maturity provides the opportunity for early delivery and a path to an accelerated initial operating capability. Raytheon’s flight tests demonstrate Archimedes meets or exceeds key JSTARS recap requirements.”

The Air Force is debating whether to continue the recapitalization or pursue a network of sensors and satellites to perform the E-8C’s battle management, command-and-control and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions instead. Service officials said they would continue the program of record — including choosing a radar source — until they decide whether to proceed in the next few months. Replacement aircraft are planned to reach full operational capability in the late 2020s.