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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Presidential Transport: Sikorsky Not an Option?

The Pentagon's recent statement on the White House's intention to proceed with the VH-71 presidential transport program may not have been entirely a slap at the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland/Bell Helicopter team developing that aircraft. While it noted that the team's offering of the EH101 (now AW101) requires a "substantial redesign" to meet the White House's requirements, it also said "no existing medium-lift helicopter can meet the Increment 2 requirements" for the primary lot of 23 aircraft. Given the Pentagon's extensive review of options other than the EH101, that logically would include Sikorsky Aircraft's S-92, which lost the bidding in 2005 for the contract. In fact, Pentagon acquisition executive John Young told reporters last week that the AW101"starts very close to the capabilities base we need. I don’t think there’s any basis to relook that," adding that aircraft has "the best ability as a starting platform to meet this requirement." Young ventured a guess that had any helicopter other than the AW101 been selected for the contract, "the cost to get to the finish line with a capable helicopter would be as high or higher, take as long or longer.” For related news
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