The U.S. Navy’s 27-page request for information (RFI), titled “Presidential Vertical Lift Platform Analysis of Alternatives Request for Information,” clearly states that it is for planning purposes only. “This is NOT a request for proposals. NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENTS EXIST AT THIS TIME,” it emphasizes.
Here are some of the basic defining capabilities the RFI provides (all performance figures are for sea level and 95 degrees F).
• A cabin that provides “a suitable executive ergonomic working environment” with seating for 10 to 14 passengers, preferably 14.
• Sufficient power to hover out of ground effect with mission payloads.
• A range of 150 to 275 nm, depending on mission.
• A cruise speed of 140 knots with mission fuel and payload.
• The ability after an engine failure on takeoff to land back safely or continue flight with mission payload.
• Be transportable in C-17 and C-5 aircraft with minimum preparation time.
• Be able to operate in a dense urban environment without damage to the landing environment or injury to nearby personnel (in other words, it should not have excessive downwash).
• Provide two integrated communications systems, one for the crew and one for the VIP passengers, both with features that include secure voice, video and data.
• Have the ability to survive perceivable threats and continue operations.
• Have the capability to protect those on board according to the White House Concept of Operations worldwide.
Last August, President Obama famously disparaged the over-budget VH-71 program when he said, “Maybe you’ve heard about this. Among its other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack.”
Interestingly, one of a host of aircraft systems the RFI asks responders to provide information about is the galley: “Has this aircraft ever been configured with galley provisions? What is [the] maximum number of occupants it was designed to service? Did it have heating and cooling solutions for food and liquids along with the ability to handle refuse?”