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 Hussein ObamaThe true commander in tweet Meghan Markle's pre-royal 'finishing lessons' and an etiquette of equality Hannity on Acosta claim he was tough on Obama: 'Only thing missing were the pom-poms' 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.