The official 2022 governor’s conservancy Christmas ornament, a black hawk helicopter. Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Congressional auditors denied a challenge Thursday by Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft to an Army decision allowing Texas-based Bell Textron to produce the eventual successor to the H-60 Black Hawk helicopter. 

Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin, and Boeing had sought to win the lucrative Future Long Range Assault Aircraft contract for their joint proposal, the “Defiant X.” When the Army awarded the contract in December to Bell’s V-280 “Valor,” Sikorsky filed a protest.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office denied that protest on Thursday, concluding that Sikorsky had failed to provide the necessary details in its own proposal and dismissing the manufacturer’s allegations against Bell’s proposal. 

In an emailed statement, Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing said the companies would review the GAO’s decision and determine their next steps. 

“We remain confident the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and Boeing team submitted the most capable, affordable and lowest-risk Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft solution,” the statement read. 

The decision represents a major setback for Sikorsky, a large Connecticut employer, which will miss out on the roughly $7.1 billion for the first production of helicopters plus more, depending on how many helicopters the military purchases in the future. The Sikorsky-made Black Hawk has been in production since the 1970s. The loss of the contract will also impact the many businesses in the state which support and supply Sikorsky.

Connecticut officials reacted to the news with disappointment. Prior to the decision, the state’s congressional delegation made numerous requests for briefings by the Defense Department to explain the Army’s decision. 

On Thursday, the state’s five congressional representatives and two senators issued a joint statement in which they said those efforts would continue. 

“Sikorsky has the world’s greatest workforce when it comes to vertical lift aircraft and decades of proven results when it comes to supplying the U.S. Armed Forces and militaries across the globe with safe dependable military and commercial birds,” the delegation wrote. “We have been working relentlessly to relay this to the Army to no avail, but we will not end our efforts as a result of this misguided decision.”

Gov. Ned Lamont said that despite the decision, state officials would work to ensure that Sikorsky’s workforce stayed in Stratford and its helicopters stayed in the skies. 

“America needs them. Our troops need them. We need them,” Lamont said. “With many years of production left for the Black Hawk and CH-53K King Stallion and additional competitions coming down the road, Sikorsky will keep Stratford, Connecticut, and democracy strong.”