Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp yesterday lodged a formal protest against the US Air Force's contract to Northrop Grumman Corp for a new long-range strike bomber, terming the selection process as "fundamentally flawed."
According to the Pentagon's two largest suppliers who worked as a team on the bid, they believed the Air Force "did not properly reward the contractors' proposals to break the upward-spiraling historical cost curves of defense acquisitions, or properly evaluate the relative or comparative risk of the competitors' ability to perform."
Last week, Northrop, the maker of stealth B-2 bomber was awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to develop and build the new bomber (See: US Air Force awards $80 bn stealth bomber contract to Northrop Grumman).
Under federal law, the US Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress that ruled on federal contract protests, will now need to evaluate the issue in 100 days.
The GAO said its ruling was due on 16 February 2016.
In its defence Northrop said, as the only company to design and build a stealth bomber, it was the best option.
''Northrop Grumman Corporation is disappointed that its former LRS-B competitors have decided to disrupt a program that is so vital to national security,'' said Randy Belote, vice president of strategic communications.
According to Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the US Air Force, failed to accurately assess both the costs and the risks associated with the programme, known as the Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B.
In the event of the protest proving successful the competition could be reopened, giving Boeing and Lockheed another shot at what was expected to be the Pentagon's last major combat aircraft programme for a decade.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin cited concerns over the programme's use of historical cost data from earlier bomber programmes to assess the cost of the planes rather than relying on projections provided by the bidding companies.