Lockheed Switches Teams on New Marine One Proposal

 - April 20, 2010, 12:31 PM

Lockheed Martin announced yesterday that it is partnering with Sikorsky to promote the latter’s H-92 medium-lift helicopter for the new VXX presidential transport mission. This is the latest development in the tortured process to replace the fleet of aging Sikorsky VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns operated by the Marine Corps to transport the President and other government VIPs. Last year the Pentagon canceled the VH-71 presidential helicopter replacement program after spending $3.3 billion for the first nine AgustaWestland AW101s that were slated to be integrated and completed by Lockheed Martin. However, as the total estimated cost of that program soared above $11 billion, or close to $400 million per helicopter, it came under widespread congressional and public criticism for both its cost and the use of a foreign-built airframe. While the program was axed, Congress did appropriate $100 million last year to cover the cost of “technology capture” from the program. Earlier this year, the U.S. Navy restarted the program anew with a notice of a request for information from interested parties. At that time a spokesman for AgustaWestland said the company remained confident that “the AW101 is the right helicopter for the mission.”