- The US Air Force plans to award a contract without competition to Collins Aerospace to acquire its ACES V ejection seat
- The service claims competition would cause delays that would risk pilot safety
The US Air Force (USAF) plans to sole-source a contract to Collins Aerospace to acquire its ACES V ejection seat for the Next Generation Ejection Seat (NGES) programme as the service believes any delay would put pilot safety at risk, according to a 2 October notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO).
The USAF has a requirement to improve the safety and sustainability of the current Collins Aerospace-developed ACES II seat currently found in the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Boeing F-15 Eagle, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, and Boeing B-1 Lancer. The NGES programme will improve safety for aircrew and reduce sustainment across the life cycle.
Collins Aerospace is not the only developer of ejection seats. The United Kingdom’s Martin-Baker also develops ejection seats and provides the US16E for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). But the USAF said in a justification and approval (J&A), dated 26 September and also posted on FBO, that Collins Aerospace was the only company that did not require any development to meet the service’s needs.
The USAF said in its announcement that a contract award to any other source would result in an unacceptable delay of at least 26 months – 12 months for development and 14 months to qualify other sources’ ejection seats for airworthiness – and cost an extra USD1.5 billion in sustainment over a 40-year life cycle. The announcement said due to its previous ACES II safety and sustainability improvement program (SSIP) qualification efforts, Collins Aerospace is the only company that is able to provide a design solution that would require a delta airworthiness qualification programme in lieu of a full qualification effort.
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