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NACF LTV Award Protest - Engines

LTV argued that it was also prejudiced by the Navy's alleged failure to act properly in considering the contractor's proposed engine selections. It argues that four engines (J1Ol, F100, F101, F401) were called out by the RFQ as acceptable and that the MDC design was selected with an engine (F404) not listed in the solicitation. Furthermore, the protester believed that evaluation criterion placed emphasis on the design which employed "demonstrated technology" and represented the "lower developmental risk against development cost and schedule milestones," and that weight was therefore to be accorded engines which were in the final development stage. LTV contended that its position is consistent with the Navy's desire to determine the optimum engine and airframe which would lead to the earliest possible operational engine. Since LTV considered the selected engine to be an untested "paper" engine, it questioned the selection of the MDC design.

The Navy assertd that under the RFQ, MDC had discretion to propose whatever engine it desired and that the four engines listed in the RFQ only represented what the Navy intended to furnish as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). Accordingly, it believed MDC did not propose an unauthorized engine. At any rate, argues Navy, the F404 engine represents only a minor modification to the JiOl engine and that the change from J1Ol to F404 is merely a nomenclature change. Accordingly, the Navy asserted that the F404 is much more than a "paper" engine and is still considered to represent low risk development. In this regard, the Navy pointed out that MDC's proposed engine is similar to LTV proposed engine, in that LTV's designs also relied on growth versions of the engines listed in the RFQ. The Navy also stateed that its calculations establish the F404 to be more than adequate for its designed task.

The RFQ contained a list of equipment, including the four engines referred to above, which would be GFE if used by the contractor. However, an enclosure to a supp]emental Air Force letter which provided "corrections, classifications or changes" to the RFQ, under the heading "Acceptable Engines," stated that "The following baseline engines will be considered acceptable when modified to meet Navy requirements * * *. The engines were identified as the F100-PW-100, the F101-GE-100, the F401-PW--400A, and the JiOl-GE.-100.

MDC proposed JiOl engines. It first proposed a J101/J7A7; it subsequently proposed a J101/J7A8 engine. This latter engine was ultimately accepted by the Navy and redesignated the F404-GE--400. GAO's review indicated that this F404 engine was not a new "paper" engine, but with certain modifications, was the basic J1Ol engine which was developed for use in the F-17. GAO noted that the basic core elementsof the JiOl, consisting of the compressor, combustor, and turbine, remained the same for the F404 except for some minor physical changes . The modifications that aie to be made to the JiOl involve a .9 inch increase in the fan diameter, the addition of a "mini-mixer," a .4 inch increase to the diameter of the low pressure turbine, a 2.4 inch increase in the diameter of the afterburner casing, and an increase of 3.1 inches in the engine's nozzle. These modifications are intended to increase the thrust available from the basic JiOl which is necessitated by the increased weight of the F-18 as compared with the F-17. Since the F404 is a modified version of the JiOl, GAO found that LTV's claim that it was prejudiced by the engine selection was without merit.

Finally, LTV believed the Navy may have improperly evaluated engine upgrading costs since the Navy allegedly estimated that modifying the J1Ol to the F404 would only cost $12 million while the "marinizing" cost of the F100 would be $300 million. The protester's analysis of the F404 costs, however, does not include the basic cost involved with upgrading the J1Ol from the YJ1O1, which was estimated to be approximately $264.2 million (1975 dollars). Since the Navy estimate for upgrading the F404 was thus approximately $276.2 million (1975 dollars), there appeared to be no basis for questioning this evaluation.

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