Navy Set to Pick Presidential Helicopter Contractor

Navy Set to Pick Presidential Helicopter Contractor

The Navy plans to select the contractor who will build the next generation presidential helicopter next month.

Of course, it appears the service will only have one contractor to choose from, Sikorsky, after two other teams dropped out of the bidding process. AgustaWestland and Northrop Grumman had planned to offer the AW101 helicopter, and Boeing had discussed offering modified versions of the V-22 Osprey and the CH-47 Chinook. Both dropped out.

That would leave Sikorsky as the lone bidder with the Connecticut-based company set to offer its S-92 helicopter to replace the aging VH-3D Sea King.Capt. Dean Peters, Naval Air Systems Command’s VXX program manager, would not confirm the number of bidders left in the competition.

The Navy plans to build a fleet of 21 operational aircraft and 2 test aircraft for the president. Marine Helicopter Squadron One will fly the new aircraft. Full operational capability is expected in 2022 and the first test aircraft will be delivered in 2016.

The Navy’s selection of a new contractor will come five years after the former contract with Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland to building the helicopter was canceled. Cost overruns had ballooned by so much that the U.S. was set to spend $13 billion on 28 aircraft.

President Obama had described the helicopter program as “an example of the procurement process gone amok.” The former helicopter was so advanced it was supposed to survive a nuclear blast.

Five years later the Navy is ready to start anew, likely with the same company who built the aging presidential helicopter.


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Oh here we go again.

If the requirements are so stringent then we’ll be toast. How much would it cost to upgrade incrementally vs the Sea King, versus a helicopter that is probably envisioned to have the command and control capability of an E-4 or VC-25?

Edit: The old solicitation from 2013 https://​www​.fbo​.gov/​i​n​d​e​x​?​s​=​o​p​p​o​r​t​u​n​i​t​y​&​a​m​p​;​m​ode=

Before anyone forgets the nightmare:

“You don’t think of it in terms of what’s the cost of the individual helicopter,” said Jacques S. Gansler, a former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, who has been asked to review the project for the Defense Science Board. “You think of it as, what do we need to do to protect the president?”

As a result, a vehicle that was supposed to be a modified version of an existing helicopter “grows into an entirely different thing,” he said.

The specifications of the new craft remain largely secret, but some details have leaked into trade publications or have been disclosed in congressional briefings. The 64-foot-long helicopters must carry 14 passengers and thousands of pounds of additional equipment while being able to fly farther without refueling than existing Marine One choppers can. They must be able to jam seeking devices, fend off incoming missiles and resist some of the electromagnetic effects of a nuclear blast.

They also must have videoconferencing and encrypted communications gear to allow the president to instantly reach advisers, military officers and foreign leaders. Although the president typically spends only short periods of time aboard the White House helicopters, at times the president can be onboard for longer distances. In a crisis, the White House says, minutes can make a difference, so a president should have the full capacity to act no matter where he or she is. In theory, a commander in chief should even be able to order a nuclear strike from the helicopter.”

And a fun gem from helis​.com

“Post contract announcement, Senator Clinton was quoted by the Associated Press saying, “The US101 will provide the president of the United States with a state-of-the-art-helicopter … an Oval Office in the sky.””

So they want a chopped 747 mated with F-18 offense and defense capabilities and throw in some Queen Mary 2 polish and fly like a helicopter. So it’ll cost 5 billion to build the prototype ‚it won’t work right and it’ll kill several test pilots before they scrap it.

Sounds like inside the Beltway bureaucracy.

I can’t believe an SPecial,ops CH –53 is not good enough for the POTUS but ok for our soldiers under fire!! I’m sure any POTUS electronics, added to an HHC-53, but, what’s another boondoggle! May be our soldiers can go,without eating for a day each week to pay for it! Ask the Marine CSM chewing on his low quarter!

A CH-53E; which, incidentally, is no longer in production, is too large to operate from the confines of the South Lawn of the White House. Same for its successor the CH-53K which is not yet in production. A heavy lift platform for the executive flight detachment at HMX-1 would be overkill.

FDR had the right idea when opted for a secret subway. Too bad he had to go to the Treasury Building to use his. A direct metro line connection to somewhere out of the way and underground would probably serve him better than receiving a helicopter on his lawn.

Wow, another opportunity for a defense contractor to take lots of cash from the US taxpayer and put it in their bank account without building a single vehicle. Lockheed is still laughing about the $4 billion they took you for last time around. And what did we learn from that? Absolutely nothing.

Potus by god respect that Obama is on a tight 24/7 schudule look at his hair it shows..

This is waste with the Pentagon wanting money so bad maybe they shouldn’t waste it on fleet of Helicopter for just 1 man. maybe they can delay it use the funds for A-10s and ect.

The whole fleet isn’t just for one man smart guy. HMX-1 also flies other missions out of Quantico.

Would be cool if they had picked the V-22, but like G Lockheart said, south lawn is tight too much money has already been wasted on this project.

Thanks, didn’t realize that, I always wondered why the HH-3 was used. Would an Osprey fit?

The Navy plans to build a fleet of 21 operational aircraft and 2 test aircraft for the president. Marine Helicopter Squadron One will fly the new aircraft. Full operational capability is expected in 2022 and the first test aircraft will be delivered in 2016.

21 why 21. Why not 50 or 100. What a waste.

21 sure does sound like a lot of choppers for this purpose. A dozen sounds like a lot — maybe half that would be reasonable (not including the two test aircraft).

Why so many?

They were expecting 23 Kestrels as well, so I’m not sure where the requirement comes from.
Trying to dig through the numbers to figure out how many aircraft HMX-1 has. Globalsecurity suggests that in the ‘90s HMX-1 had 11 VH-3D and 8 VH-60N, which establishes some kind of baseline of almost 20 helicopters before the 2000’s. Assuming any retirements would be backfilled, plus any incremental orders 20ish is probably quite reasonable.

I am guessing that for the presidential mission that the customization required is extreme, which accounted for the failure of the Kestrel and VXX. I am curious if they wasted a lot of money trying to make it C-5 transportable, which is something the VH-60N could do. And considering the slightly different niches of the VH-3D and the VH-60N, I wonder if they got caught up in trying to make a single airframe be more like both and ended up breaking the bank.

Replicating E-4 or VC-25 in a helicopter is a recipe for disaster. The more feasible alternative is to have a second helicopter (or second set of helicopters) carry the C3 equipment around with different internal configuration as a rotary-wing national command center, then in wartime switch the POTUS to that helicopter instead of VIP. Marine One doesn’t fly alone (needs decoys), and so long as wartime command helicopter is indistinguishable from VIP helicopter requirements to keep the POTUS plugged in could be met without trying to shoehorn so much into every single HMX-1 helicopter. However, the caveat is if the situation changes while in transit, POTUS cannot move to a different helicopter while underway, so kind of relay functionality would be required, or rudimentary independent capability which adds to the cost of doing business.

Of course, every single prez helicopter would still need to meet some basic requirements for self-defense and countermeasures, which will add to the cost of any helicopter program for VIPs.

I’m thinking it would be an awkward fit.
V-22 is like 84 ft wide (blade tip to blade tip) which is over 20 ft wider than the VH-3s rotor diameter
It also outweighs the Sea King by around 20,000 lbs. And, that can’t be great for the lawn. They already put out large discs to displace the weight of the VH-3/60s used now.
I think the biggest problem to overcome would be downwash

Might help seeing the landing area

I would seriously like to see an aircraft that can: resist some of the electromagnetic effects of a nuclear blast. If one is close enough to need this protection it is highly unlikely to survive the detonation of a nuclear device. It is mentioned that the Marine 1 is being built to a specification and have equipment that is just not feasible or practical, let alone there is serious doubt the equipment will be used by anyone other that the people doing the pre & post flights or testing. You cannot protect, provide equipment for, satisfy all fantasies of hypothetical scenarios, or give the comfort the POTUS should have. Wake up no one is immune from attacks nor can anyone outguess the severity of an attack this is something we need to get over. POTUS’s time in the bird is very little and most decisions the POTUS has to make are not instantaneous so we need to relax a little.

He did that because he was in a wheel chair and didn’t to be seen in his chair that much.

Is there a reason they don’t just pave over part of the south lawn for helicopter landing? Not sure how to address the downwash issue though.

A Presidential Bolo Mk XXX Planetary Siege Unit could simply drive the POTUS into the Potomac to wait out the nuclear exchange. Then surface and fire ICBM’s back at the Russians to teach them a lesson.

The White House is a symbol, the landscaping is part of that package. Ripping up the lawn and replacing it with an ugly concrete helipad has generally not been seen as respectful of the symbolism.

Considering how somehow all of the stuff they wanted to fit into the last presidential helo was too much for the rather large AW101 and S92, they might as well just go with the CH-53K and be done with it.

Notice they didn’t say the “new” program doesn’t contain the same requirements for nuclear survivability???? DoD and this WH just got to pick the supplier THEY wanted this time is the ONLY difference. Either way you look at it, its a lot of money while the Navy is debating funding for re-fueling an aircraft carrier.….…..

The failure of VXX was largely due to “requirements creep.” It was awarded to LM on the basis of an “off-the-shelf” helo, but the USN subsequently demanded that all of the “off-the shelf” components meet a rigourous test regimen that was not stated in the original requirements that were bid. That and the additional technoligies that they tried to add, and weight issues that required an engine change. caused the costs to skyrocket. At the end of the day, they had five or six production prototypes that were close to the phase I requirements, but were facing additional “changes” from the Navy. So they sacked the whole program and paid a huge sum of money to LM to get out from under their contractual requirements.

We shall see if the Navy has learned any lessons from their last fiasco.

CH-53E Super Stallion, your right is no longer in production, but the CH-53K King Stallion is.. (and is a brand new aircraft)

Not quite yet. It is still early days with CH-53K King Stallion (name now official). What follows is a brief excerpt from a Sikorsky press release dated 14–05-05 available at the link further below.

” In April, Sikorsky began powered ground tests of the CH-53K aircraft systems, such as rotors, drive, electrical, hydraulic, avionics and flight controls. Hundreds of hours of powered ground tests will prepare the CH-53K team for first flight at the end of 2014, and the start of a three-year flight test program.“
. http://​www​.sikorsky​.com/​A​b​o​u​t​+​S​i​k​o​r​s​k​y​/​N​e​w​s​/​P​r​ess


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