The US Air Force (USAF) has confirmed its plans to re-evaluate bids submitted for its next-generation 3D expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR) contract.

In October 2014, Raytheon beat Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to win a $19.5m contract for engineering and manufacturing development of a new expeditionary radar that can detect, identify, and track drones, missiles, and aircraft.

The contract covers procurement of three radars, and options for an additional three systems and product support that bring the total value to around $71.8m.

However, the losing contractors filed formal protests with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) against the USAF decision within weeks of the contract being awarded.

The USAF confirmed to Reuters that the action was being taken after receiving feedback from the GAO, and that a new round of discussions with bidders on technical evaluations and pricing analysis may take about four months.

"Northrop Grumman’s remains confident in our ability to meet the air force’s critical mission requirements at an affordable cost."

US Air Force spokesman Justin Oakes said: "Depending on the responses, the additional discussions may result in a new source selection decision."

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Both Lockheed and Northrop welcomed the air force’s decision to address concerns raised about the competition.

A Northrop Grumman spokesman said: "We are pleased that the air force has indicated it will take corrective action to ensure a robust competition that should enable the department to obtain the best solution for our warfighters."

Northrop Grumman strategic communications vice-president Randy Belote said: "We remain confident in Northrop Grumman’s ability to offer a capability that meets the air force’s critical mission requirements at an affordable cost."

Meanwhile, Raytheon Integrated Communications manager Mike Nachshen said: "We were informed by the USAF of their decision, and are currently evaluating our options.

"Raytheon remains confident in our solution and we’re eager to move forward and deliver this much-needed 3DELRR capability to the US, and its friends and allies."

The 3DELRR system is scheduled to replace the USAF’s Vietnam-era AN/TPS-75 passive electronically scanned array air search radar system.

Image: A USAF ground radar systems technician inspects an AN/TPS-75 radar system at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of Bradley A Lai, US Air Force.