Boeing's controversial embrace of the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter for the revived U.S. presidential helicopter requirement could lead to more partnerships with AgustaWestland parent company Finmeccanica. Dennis Muilenberg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said that C4ISR-cyber security, information technology and services-are other areas of potential collaboration. AW is already a license-production partner on the Boeing AH-64 Apache and CH-47F Chinook helicopters. Boeing last week submitted information to the Pentagon on the Boeing 101, a version of the AW101 for the potential VXX competition. Muilenberg said that he saw “no contradiction” between Boeing's promotion of the European helicopter and its criticism of the EADS bid of the Airbus A330MRTT for the KC-X competition. “That airplane would be fundamentally built in Europe,” he said, “whereas...our 101 approach is to build it here.” Boeing has acquired a license from AW to do so, for the VXX competition only.
The AW101 won the previous competition for a new U.S. presidential helicopter, but the VH-71 program was cancelled last year after big cost overruns, caused partially by added requirements. AW was partnered with prime contractor Lockheed Martin on the VH-71, but LM has now teamed with Sikorsky to offer a version of the S-92 for the VXX. Boeing has also responded to the VXX requirement with information on the CH-47F and (in partnership with Bell) on the V-22 tiltrotor. “If a [request for proposal] is issued next year, we might have to make a choice among our three offerings,” acknowledged Mark Ballew, business development manager for Boeing Rotorcraft.