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.