The U.S. Army is free to keep working on its Modular Handgun System contract with Sig Sauer despite being under protest by Glock Inc.
Glock filed a protest Feb. 24 with the Government Accountability Office against the Army’s selection of the Sig Sauer P320 as a replacement for the M9 service pistol.
It's often the case that protests filed with the GAO result in an automatic freeze of the contract, but Army officials at Program Executive Office Soldier said recently that they were told they could still move MHS forward.
The reason? Glock was two days late filing the protest, according to a source acutely familiar with competition law but is not cleared to talk to the press.
In order for a contract to be frozen upon protest, the company with a complaint must either file a protest within 10 days of the contract award decision or within five days of receiving the required debriefing by the government, the sources said.
Glock received its debriefing on Feb. 17, but did not file the protest until Feb. 24, which exceeds the five-day deadline so GAO did not freeze the contract, according to the source.
The GAO is expected to rule on Glock's protest by June 5, according to the GAO website.
The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.
The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size and compact versions of its 9mm pistol. The pistols can be outfitted with suppressors and accommodate standard and extended capacity magazines.
The Army launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. The decision formally ended the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.
The Army in December down-selected to two finalists for the competition: Sig and Glock, which had submitted its Glock 17 and Glock 19 models for consideration.
Given the size of the contract, Glock was widely expected to protest the decision.
The Army began working with the small arms industry on Modular Handgun System in early 2013, but the joint effort has been in the works for more than five years. It could result in the Defense Department buying nearly 500,000 new pistols.
The Army says it is still trying to work out how many new pistols it plans to field, but Program Executive Office Soldier officials initially estimated that the service planned to purchase more than 280,000 full size handguns and approximately 7,000 sub-compact versions.
The other military services participating in the program may order an additional 212,000 systems above the Army quantity.