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.
The U.S. Navy on Tuesday issued a request for information (RFI) for the helicopter that will possibly begin to replace the current fleet of “Marine One” Sikorsky VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns between 2017 and 2023.
Shane Eddy is the new kid on the block at Sikorsky, but he’s no neophyte to helicopters, having spent more than 25 years in the industry, with the last 14 years at Bell Helicopter, where he most recently served as senior vice president of customer support and services.
Limited funding for the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter, which is based on the triple-engine AgustaWestland AW101, made it into the final FY2010 U.S. defense appropriations bill, reviving the model’s chances of one day flying U.S. presidents. At direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon had terminated the program on May 15 last year.
The VH-71 presidential helicopter program, which was terminated in May by the Secretary of Defense, received life support on December 19 when the President signed the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill. Earlier last year, Obama had threatened to veto the bill if it contained funding for the program.
Limited funding for the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter, which is based on the three-engine AgustaWestland AW101, has made it into the final FY2010 U.S. defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3326), reviving the machine’s chances of one day flying the President. At the direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon terminated the program on May 15 last year.
With little fanfare on Saturday, the Senate approved and President Obama subsequently signed the final FY2010 U.S. defense appropriations bill. The $636.3 billion bill includes limited funding for the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter, which is based on the triple-engine AgustaWestland AW101.
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.
Not unlike the way the Philadelphia Phillies’ chances of winning this year’s World Series decreased substantially on Sunday when they lost game four to the New York Yankees, the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter’s chances of receiving funding in this year’s defense appropriations bill diminished considerably yesterday when Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.) apparently removed his support of the program.
The future of the VH-71 presidential helicopter program neared the wire last month as Congress worked to pass a final 2010 defense appropriations bill that the President would sign before the start of the fiscal year on October 1. If the bill is not signed into law by then, Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the Department of Defense. As AIN went to press, the bill had not yet become law.