Amazon wins suspension of US$10 billion military 'Jedi' contract to Microsoft

Judge halts Microsoft work on JEDI contract after AWS request

A federal judge on Thursday ordered a temporary halt of Microsoft's work on a $10 billion military cloud contract, a win for Amazon, which sued the USA government previous year for awarding the contract to its rival.

A judge ordered a block on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) initiative, a huge effort to modernise the U.S. military's computer systems, which the Department of Defense had awarded to Microsoft in October.

Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith issued the injunction but did not release her written opinion.

Details of the ruling were sealed for unspecified reasons.

Earlier this week, Amazon's cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services, said it was seeking to depose Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper in its lawsuit over whether the president was trying "to screw Amazon" over the contract.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Carver, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon believed "the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DoD's modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need". Amazon subsequently sued, alleging that President Donald Trump's bias against the company hurt its chances to win the project. Trump frequently criticizes Amazon and Jeff Bezos, its founder; Bezos owns the Washington Post, which Trump says covers him unfairly. In October 2019, Microsoft was announced as the victor of the contract.

Microsoft in October won the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud contract, estimated to be worth as much as US$10 billion over a decade.

Microsoft said it hoped to prevail after the merits of the case are heard in court.

"We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft". Amazon was initially favored to win the contract, which defense officials say will advance the U.S. military's technological advantage.

The Pentagon and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amazon will have to put up a $42m deposit "for the payment of such costs and damages as may be incurred or suffered in the event that future proceedings prove that this injunction was issued wrongfully", but that's nothing to the trillion-dollar behemoth.



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