Former rivals Lockheed and Sikorsky partner for chopper contract

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.

Lockheed and Sikorsky went head to head five years ago for a much-coveted contract to build a new fleet of Marine One helicopters. At the time, Lockheed Martin partnered with helicopter-maker AgustaWestland to win the contract for the VH-71 presidential helicopter replacement program.

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 ObamaBarack ObamaEnding Cuban embargo will benefit America Deplorable debate reminds voters of third party options Low income mothers need policy agenda to overcome healthcare obstacles MORE 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.