Army cancels spy plane deal with Lockheed

The Army has pulled the plug on an $879 million Aerial Common Sensor contract with Lockheed Martin Corp.

"After carefully evaluating Lockheed's proposals, we decided that the prudent course of action at this time was to terminate the contract and bring the various players?industry, the acquisition and user communities, the Navy and Air Force?back to the drawing board to make sure we all have a firm understanding of what the requirements are and the various challenges we need to overcome to make this program succeed," said Claude M. Bolton, the Army's assistant secretary for acquisition and technology.

In a news release, Bolton also stressed that the Army is not terminating its objective to build a next-generation battlefield spy plane.

In September, the Army issued a stop work order to Lockheed and gave the company 60 days to propose options to resolve outstanding issues. The Army mainly found that the weight of the Aerial Common Sensor electronics payload exceeded the Embraer 145 airframe, which was Lockheed's selected aircraft.

In November, Lockheed recommended a switch from the Embraer jet to the larger Bombardier Global Express business jet, but the Army ultimately decided to terminate the contract, finding that it had failed to meet critical operational performance goals and cost and schedule objectives.

The Army will continue to pursue a next-generation airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system, according to the release.

Dawn S. Onley is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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