Military

Check Out The New Presidential Helicopter Landing On the White House Lawn

By Dan Parsons | November 20, 2018
Send Feedback | @SharkParsons

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Hunter Helis

With surprisingly little notice or fanfare, a developmental VH-92 Presidential Helicopter flew from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in September and landed on the White House South Lawn.

The Sikorsky VH-92A helicopter conducted landing and takeoff testing at the White House South Lawn Sept. 22, according to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). It is the first of six test aircraft developed under the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, which includes the design, certification and testing of a replacement helicopter to support the presidential worldwide vertical-lift mission. Though the test maneuvers occurred in September, the photos were first posted online Nov. 11 by online publication The Drive.

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The aircraft that made the flight is an EMD version that was delivered to NAVAIR in August. The flights were part of the testing program for the aircraft, according to a NAVAIR spokesperson.

The landing and takeoffs were part of a comprehensive test plan designed to ensure the aircraft meets all operational specifications.  Multiple landings and takeoffs were performed between 8 and 10 a.m., Sept. 22, according to NAVAIR.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Hunter Helis

Plans are to purchase 23 VH-92s to replace the current fleet of VH-3D Sea Kings, also made by Sikorsky. That number includes 17 production helicopters, four for training and the remaining two for testing. The Marine Corps is to purchase the 17 production aircraft over the course of three years, between fiscal years 2019 and 2021.

They will be operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), responsible for vertical-lift support of the president, his entourage, heads of state, Defense Department officials and other VIPs is directed by the Marine Corps and White House Military Office.

HMX-1 recently retired its fleet of CH-53E Super Stallions and replaced them with MV-22B Osprey tiltrotors. Those aircraft carry the press and other members of the president’s entourage when they are being transported by rotorcraft.

Most flight testing is taking place at Pax River under the direction of NAVAIR. The program is tracking to achieve an initial operational capability (IOC) in late 2020, NAVAIR said. The determination of when the VH-92A will be introduced to service will be made by the White House Military Office.

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