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Martin-Baker declines to protest US Air Force ejection seat contract to Collins Aerospace

06 November 2019
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Key Points

  • Martin-Baker will not protest an upcoming US Air Force contract for its Next Generation Ejection Seat programme
  • The contract could be worth as much as USD450 million

Martin-Baker will not protest to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) plan to award a contract to Collins Aerospace to procure its ACES V ejection seat.

The USAF said in a 2 October announcement that it planned to sole source a contract to Collins Aerospace for the service’s Next Generation Ejection Seat (NGES) programme because the air force believes any delay would put pilot safety at risk. The USAF has a requirement to improve the safety and sustainability of the current Collins Aerospace-developed ACES II seat 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 US Air Force expects to sole source a contract to Collins Aerospace to procure its ACES V ejection seat. (Collins Aerospace)The US Air Force expects to sole source a contract to Collins Aerospace to procure its ACES V ejection seat. (Collins Aerospace)

Martin-Baker spokesperson Richard Johnson said on 5 November that the company chose not to protest because the justification and approval (J&A) has no money put against it and is not a programme of record. Martin-Baker agreed with the USAF’s assertion that any delay would put pilots as risk. Johnson said a protest would potentially delay any improvements to the escape system for legacy aircraft from 6 to 24 months.

The USAF, in its 26 September J&A document, said that Collins Aerospace was the only company whose seat did not require any development to meet the service’s needs. The air force also said that only Collins Aerospace could provide a design solution that would result in a delta airworthiness qualification programme in lieu of a full qualification effort. Finally, the USAF said a contract award to any source other than Collins Aerospace would result in an unacceptable delay of 26 months and cost an extra USD1.5 billion in sustainment over a 40-year life cycle.

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