VH-71 Presidential Helicopter May Get a Small Boost

 - December 15, 2009, 11:13 AM

Capitol Hill observers expect the House and Senate conference committee on defense appropriations to issue its final report this week. In it could be included some $129 million designated for the VH-71 presidential helicopter program. Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) released a statement on Friday saying that “an agreement [had been reached] between top House and Senate leaders to include over $100 million…for the continuation of the mission systems work” on the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71. Details of the agreement won’t be available until the report is filed, but a spokesperson for Hinchey said another $29 million could be earmarked for the initial studies for the next presidential helicopter. Hinchey was instrumental in having $485.2 million included in the House’s version of the bill ($400 million for VH-71 Increment 1 development, $55.2 million for contract termination expenses, and $30 million for the successor aircraft). He has been working for months to have VH-71 funds included in the final bill, particularly after the Senate did not include such funding and President Obama said he would consider vetoing the bill if it did. Said Hinchey, “The agreement ensures that the VH-71 remains a viable contender to replace the current fleet as the administration considers new options.”