Lockheed Martin Stepping Up Work on Presidential Helicopters
According to published reports, Lockheed Martin in Owego could be stepping up its work on a presidential helicopter project over a decade after the plug was pulled on a similar project due to cost overruns and political positioning.
The Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin reports Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin this week were awarded a $542-million contract by the U.S. Navy to build and outfit six VH92A aircraft. The production models would be built in Connecticut at the Sikorsky facility with systems installation at Lockheed Martin in Owego. The final project would produce 23 Marine One helicopters for the presidential squadron.
Lockheed Martin had been in the process of developing and producing a new fleet of presidential helicopters with its Italian partner Augusta Westland in 2005 when, a few years later, the late Senator John McCain asked why President-elect Barack Obama needed a fleet of brand-new helicopters at a cost of close to $12-million. The original contract costs had been put at about half of that.
The newly-elected President commented that the Marine-One helicopters in service ‘looked just fine’ to him and the original project was scrapped.
Since that time, Lockheed and its former rival, Sikorsky have been partners on dozens of military aircraft projects.