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Judge freezes Pentagon contract work

Amazon suit halts military cloud program

NEW YORK — 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 U.S. government last year for awarding the contract to its rival.

Amazon’s lawsuit, filed in November, alleged that President Donald Trump’s bias against the company hurt its chances to win the project. Amazon and Micro­soft were finalists for the lucrative contract, for which Amazon was considered an early front-runner.

The project, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, will store and process vast amounts of classified data. It’s intended to improve the Pentagon’s communications with soldiers on the battlefield and would use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.

Pentagon officials have said the work would be important to advancing the U.S. military’s technological advantage over adversaries.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said in a statement that the department was disappointed in the ruling that delayed changes “and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need.” But he said the Pentagon remained sure of its decision to choose Microsoft.

Microsoft echoed the disappointment in a statement Thursday, but said it believes that it will ultimately be allowed to move forward with the project. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Charles Tiefer, a government contracting law professor at the University of Baltimore, called the order to stop work on the project “striking,” noting that judges typically halt work on contracts when they see some merit in the case.

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