WASHINGTON — A war of words between the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the Air Force over a multibillion-dollar national security launch services competition appears to be escalating.
Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in a March 28 letter asked Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to delay the Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement and reconsider its plan to request bids this month and select two providers in spring 2020, a schedule that Smith believes is rushed and does not allow for a “fair and open competition.”
Wilson wrote back on April 25, explaining that the Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement (LSP) must get underway immediately, and that any further delays would prevent the Air Force from fulfilling a congressional mandate to stop using rockets that have the Russian RD-180 engine.
The launch procurement is called Phase 2 as it is the second phase of the program previously known as the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, recently renamed National Security Space Launch. In Phase 1, United Launch Alliance was the only provider of national security launches. In Phase 1A, SpaceX entered the field. In Phase 2, the plan is to select two vendors from a field that would include ULA and ...