AgustaWestland Sues U.S. to Block Airbus Helicopter Buy

AgustaWestland, a maker of military helicopters, sued the U.S. to block the purchase of 155 Airbus Group NV training models without considering competing bids, saying the decision violates federal procurement rules.

AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA, said its helicopters are better suited for training and cheaper than the Airbus aircraft. It said the U.S. didn’t justify its decision, disclosed Sept. 4, to buy the equipment on something other than a full and open competitive basis, according to a complaint filed Sept. 19 in the U.S Court of Federal Claims in Washington.

Each Airbus helicopter costs $7.5 million, compared with $3.25 million for the AgustaWestland model suitable for the job, the company said in the lawsuit. The approximate amount of the procurement is $1.16 billion, AgustaWestland said.

The Arlington, Virginia-based company is seeking a court order blocking the U.S. Army from proceeding with its procurement plans and declaring that the service has violated procurement laws that require full and open competition.

Jesse Stalder, an Army spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a voice-mail message after regular business hours seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is AgustaWestland North America v. U.S. 14-877C, U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Washington).

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