Rendering of part of Raytheon's Space Fence monitoring apparatus. Credit: Raytheon

WASHINGTON — Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems will not protest the U.S. Air Force’s decision to give a $914 million contract to Lockheed Martin to build a ground-based network of space-surveillance radars known as Space Fence.

“Raytheon put forward the most affordable, lowest-risk solution which drew heavily on the company’s experience as the world leader in building large-phased array radars in austere parts of the world, but after reviewing the results of the debrief we believe not protesting the Space Fence decision is the right thing to do for the Air Force, the Warfighter, and Raytheon,” Raytheon spokesman Mike Nachshen said in a June 30 email.

The Air Force on June 2 chose Lockheed Martin over Raytheon to serve as Space Fence prime contractor. Both Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training of Moorestown, New Jersey, and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, have spent years developing competing designs and prototypes for the Space Fence, an S-band radar network that will allow the Air Force to track baseball-sized objects as far out as 1,900 kilometers in space.

Federal contractors have the right to challenge awarded contracts by filing a protest with either the U.S. Government Accountability Office or the Court of Federal Claims. But as the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, William LaPlante, noted in a June 13 speech at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security in Washington, such protests rarely result in overturning the award. Between 2008 and 2012, the GAO sustained 2.6 percent of protests filed against the U.S. Defense Department while 5.6 percent of protests filed against civilian agencies were sustained, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.