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Lockheed can proceed with U.S. radar work in absence of Raytheon protest

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp got good news on Tuesday when Raytheon Co failed to protest the award of a $915 million contract to Lockheed in time to block automatically the company's work on a new ground-based radar.

Raytheon has missed the federal deadline to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office that would have triggered an automatic stop-work order on the contract, according to sources familiar with federal law and the timing of an Air Force briefing on the contract.

The U.S. Air Force awarded the space-tracking Space Fence contract to Lockheed on June 2. Raytheon and Lockheed both declined comment.

Ralph White, GAO's managing associate general counsel for procurement law, said the congressional agency had not received a protest about the contract from Raytheon as of late Tuesday.

Air Force spokesman Major Eric Badger said Raytheon was briefed about the contract award on June 9 but had no additional comment.

The Air Force chose Lockheed to develop a ground-based radar that will track about 200,000 pieces of old satellites and other space junk. Including options the deal is estimated to be worth just under $2 billion.

Under federal law, contractors seeking to halt work on a contested program must file a protest within 10 days of the contract award, or five days after a mandatory briefing by the awarding agency.

Raytheon still has until Thursday to protest the contract award, 10 days after its Air Force briefing, but that would not necessarily halt work on the program. Companies generally file within the earlier timeframe, the sources said.

The company could also file a claim with the agency directly or with the Court of Federal Claims.

Raytheon won a separate contract on June 2 to build the terminals for highly-secure military satellites that enable the U.S. president to communicate during a nuclear war, a contract once held by Boeing Co.

Boeing spokesman Richard Esposito on Tuesday said his company had decided not to protest the decision following a debrief by the Air Force.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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