By Roxana Tiron - 04/19/10 02:50 PM EDT
Former rivals Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky announced Monday that they will
partner to bid for a contract to build a new fleet of presidential helicopters.
Connecticut-based Sikorsky will take on the role of the prime contractor with its H-92 medium lift helicopter, while Lockheed Martin will provide and integrate the necessary systems for the presidential helicopter.
The Pentagon, however, formally canceled the VH-71 program last May, after it suffered from delays and ballooning costs. That decision followed remarks President Barack Obama made last February in which he called the VH-71 helicopter an “example of the procurement process gone amok.”
The price tag for the canceled VH-71 rose from an estimated $6.5 billion to $13 billion in part because of growing technological requirements from the Marine One Squadron, which flies the presidential helicopters.
Now the Pentagon is analyzing alternatives for the replacement of the decades-old fleet of presidential helicopters. Sikorsky built the current fleet of helicopters — the VH-3D and VH-60N — that fly the president and other VIPs.
The Navy, which manages the program, also has issued a request to the industry for information to restart the bidding process and also help inform the analysis of alternatives.
Lockheed and Sikorsky on Monday jointly submitted a response to the Navy’s request for information. The document details how a Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin team would design and manufacture the H-92 helicopter with integrated systems for the “Marine One” mission, according to a press release from the companies.