Boeing Makes Bid To Retain FAB-T Contract

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WASHINGTON — Boeing Co. submitted a new proposal for continuing work on the U.S. Air Force’s Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) program in January, winning a reprieve on a contract that had been marked for termination due to delays and cost overruns.

The Air Force notified Congress and Boeing Jan. 4 of its intent to terminate the company’s contract on the multibillion-dollar program, according to Maj. Gen. John Hyten, director of space programs for the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. However, Boeing proposed Jan. 9 to change the contract from the current cost-plus structure to a fixed price arrangement, Hyten told reporters on Feb. 17.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acting acquisition executive, will evaluate the proposal to see if it is the best path forward for delivering the capability to U.S. forces, Hyten said. In the meantime, Boeing will continue working on the satellite terminal program, he said.

However, the company has been given no assurances that it will keep the contract; the Air Force will make that determination once a formal proposal is submitted.  The Air Force plans to release a request for proposals this spring to bring on an alternative contractor as a hedge against continued poor performance from Boeing, with a contract award possible by the end of the fiscal year.

Boeing is prime contractor on FAB-T, designed to develop variants of ground-based and airborne satellite terminals to handle the nation’s most important and sensitive communications, including nuclear command and control. The Air Force in April that the program’s cost had grown from an estimated $3.1 billion in 2002 to $4.6 billion.