As threatened, United Launch Alliance declined to turn in a bid for the first openly competed national security space launch in more than a decade.
Here is the statement from ULA:
“ULA wants nothing more than to compete, but unfortunately we are unable to submit a compliant bid for GPS III-X launch services. The RFP requires ULA to certify that funds from other government contracts will not benefit the GPS III launch mission. ULA does not have the accounting systems in place to make that certification, and therefore cannot submit a compliant proposal.
“In addition, the RFP’s Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) structure allows for no ability to differentiate between competitors on the basis of critical factors such as reliability, schedule certainty, technical capability and past performance.
“Further, under the restrictions imposed by the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), ULA does not currently have any Atlas engines available to bid and therefore is unable to submit a timely proposal.
“ULA remains fully committed to supporting America’s national security missions with world-class launch services. We look forward to working with the Air Force to address the obstacles to ULA’s participation in future launch competitions to enable a full and fair competition.”
Note: On the playground, this is called taking your ball and going home. The complaint regarding LPTA is particularly telling. Despite all its protestations to the contrary, the Boeing / Lockheed Martin joint venture is clearly only interested in competing when it can dictate the terms on which the decision will be made.