WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force must modify an annual "launch capability" contract awarded to United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, given the advent of a new competitor, senior U.S. Air Force and Pentagon officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Air Force Space Command Commander General John Hyten said acquisition officials were working on a plan to phase out the infrastructure support contract, which he said was initially put in place to protect "a very fragile industrial base."
He said it was not possible to have a fair competition with the contracts in place, backing an argument often made by privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, which is vying for some of the launch contracts now carried out by ULA.
Dyke Weatherington, acting deputy assistant defense secretary for space, strategic and intelligence systems, said some funding for launch infrastructure would likely be folded into future contracts for launch services, instead of being awarded separately.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)