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BAE Protests Army's CIRCM Contract to Northrop

BAE Systems on Thursday said it has protested the Army's decision to award Northrop Grumman a contract to develop new countermeasures for helicopters and aircraft.

The Army recently awarded Northrop a $35 million contract to develop next-generation countermeasure systems, which deploy flares and radar jammers to protect rotary-wing, tilt-rotor and fixed-wing aircraft from surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles.

It was a significant win for Northrop, which was looking to expand its footprint in the market from the Navy and Air Force to include the Army.

Last week, BAE said it was "disappointed" by the decision and that it was "considering all of our options." On Thursday, it confirmed it had filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, which arbitrates federal contract disputes.

“We value our longstanding U.S. Army partnership and were disappointed to learn that we were unsuccessful in securing the Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) engineering and manufacturing development contract, as we believe that our proposal was the most technologically sound and cost-effective offering," according to a statement from the company.

"Following a careful review of the debrief received from the Army customer, we have identified some inconsistencies and have filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office to ensure a full and timely review of the award decision," it stated. "In the meantime, we remain focused on providing the best aircrew survivability solutions and fulfilling our commitments to Army aviation."

CIRCM is a lightweight version of the highly effective Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, or ATIRCM, system made by BAE and installed on the CH-47F Chinook transport helicopter.

The protest may result in a delay to the program of at least three months.

The initial schedule called for Northrop’s system to undergo a critical design review in fiscal 2016 and complete engineering and manufacturing development by October 2017, according to the Army. While the contract amount is relatively small, the award includes potentially significant options for low-rate production of the systems beginning in 2017 and continuing into 2018.

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