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However, every other potential contender for the USAF contract, which is capped at $6.84 billion, has decided not to bid for the programme. Many of the contractors dropped out because of the evaluation criteria for the bids, says Dan Goure, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, who notes that this "essentially makes this a price shootout".
"A thorough analysis of the final RFP [request for proposals] has been conducted and Northrop Grumman has determined that it will not submit a bid to the US Air Force for the combat rescue helicopter programme," Northrop says. "We've reached this conclusion based on an extensive evaluation of customer requirements under the current RFP."
Northrop, which is partnered with European airframer AgustaWestland, had intended to offer a variant of the AW101 for the CRH effort. "This decision was made jointly with our teammate AgustaWestland and will have no effect on the team's pursuit of the US Navy presidential helicopter programme," it adds.
Like Northrop and AgustaWestland, EADS has also decided not to pursue the opportunity. "After carefully evaluating the RFP, we have decided that we will not submit a bid. As with any bid/no-bid decision, a multitude of factors were considered in our analysis," the company says. EADS has not publicly said which aircraft it had intended to offer, but it is likely it would have pitched the Eurocopter EC725.