By By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large | May 12, 2014
The U.S. Navy has awarded Stratford, Conn.-based Sikorsky Aircraft the contract to build the next fleet of helicopters for the President of the United States. The $1.24-billion VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement contract calls for the testing and delivery of six FAA-certified S-92s specially modified for the mission, as well as two training simulators for the Marine Corps unit that will operate them.
Covering a period of performance into late 2020, the fixed-price incentive firm contract is the initial step toward providing replacements for the current VH-3 and VH-60 fleet with a total of 21 operational S-92s by 2023.
Marine One. Photo courtesy of Sikorsky
The S-92 was certified in the U.S. in 2004. In a standard production configuration, it receives power from two General Electric CT7-8A engines, delivering 2,520 takeoff shaft horsepower for five minutes. It is, however, assumed that many other features of the medium-twin helicopter will be significantly modified for presidential service during the four phases of acquisition.
Stage one will be the assembly of the basic aircraft in Coatesville, Pa. Stage two will take place in a secure area at Sikorsky’s Stratford facility, where classified modifications will be completed. Stage three will find the aircraft in Owego, N.Y., where Sikorsky’s partner Lockheed Martin will install the integrated mission and communications systems. The final stage will be the outfitting of the cabin’s 128-square-foot, stand-up cabin for executive transport.
The Pentagon cancelled a contract with AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin in 2009 for the replacement of the Presidential helicopter fleet due to concerns over rising contract costs.
Related: VIP/Head of State News