UPDATE 3-ULA needs relief on Russian engines before GPS launch bid -CEO
(Adds Air Force comment, details, paragraphs 6-7)
By Irene Klotz and Andrea Shalal
CAPE CANAVERAL Fla./WASHINGTON Oct 2 (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, on Friday said it cannot bid in a U.S. Air Force competition to launch a GPS satellite unless it gets some relief from a ban on use of Russian rocket engines.
ULA Chief Executive Officer Tory Bruno told reporters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that the company was seeking a partial waiver on trade sanctions enacted last year which ban U.S. military use of the Russian RD-180 engine that powers ULA's primary workhorse Atlas 5 rocket.
The issue is now in the hands of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Bruno said. Without the waiver, he said, ULA could not compete for that launch or any other new national security launches until an American-built engine is ready in 2019.
"That's not a viable business model," he told reporters.
Bruno said the company needed a decision to be able to submit a bid for the GPS launch competition, the first time in nearly a decade that launches of large U.S. military satellites will be opened to competition.
Claire Leon, director of the Launch Enterprise Directorate at Air Force Space Command, said ULA has the option of formally requesting an RD-180 waiver as part of its bid.
"It is critical to the Air Force that we get more than one bidder. We are actively working different ways to make it possible for ULA to bid," Leon told reporters on a conference call. "We are hoping that they will bid on this proposal." Continuación...