WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Air Force has requested news bids for a $15 billion (euro10.5 billion) contract Boeing Co. was awarded last November to replace 141 search-and-rescue helicopters used in combat.
The deal has been on hold while the Air Force reviewed protests filed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp., the losing bidders.
In two sets of protests filed the past year and backed by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency, the companies questioned the clarity of the original requests for bids.
On Wednesday, the Air Force said it had asked all three companies to resubmit bids by mid-November.
The companies have just over a week to identify problems with the revised requests, which have changed enough, experts say, that the contract winner could be someone other than Boeing.
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne told members of the House Armed Services committee at a hearing Wednesday that the deal should be awarded in mid-February.
Dan Spoor, vice president for the helicopter program of Lockheed, said the Air Force's changes are a positive development.
Paul Jackson, spokesman for Sikorsky, said the company is evaluating the new request.
The companies had expected a draft of the revised request last week, but the Air Force delayed its release and postponed a meeting with Boeing, Lockheed and Sikorsky because of competitive concerns raised by a potential bidder, said Joe LaMarca, a Boeing spokesman.
Shares of Boeing rose 28 cents to $94.54 in after-hours trading and fell 69 cents to end the regular trading session at $94.26.
Shares of Lockheed Martin dropped $1.05 to $106.97 in after-hours trading, having ended the regular trading session up $1.05 to close at $108.02.
Shares of United Technologies also fell 47 cents to $76.02 in extended trading after gaining 47 cents to close at $76.49 in the regular session.
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