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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Lockheed Says VH-71 is On Track

MILITARY/VIP

Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens is telling investors the company’s VH-71 U.S. presidential transport helicopter program is back on track and will deliver most of its helicopters on time.

Speaking to a financial conference in New York on May 31, Stevens reiterated statements by the company, and echoed by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, which is running the program for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lockheed Martin’s poor performance on the program was cited by the U.S. Air Force as a reason not to pick the company to build a next-generation combat search-and-rescue helicopter. That rationale was supported by the U.S. General Accountability Office, which weighed (and is again weighing) company protests again that contract award to Boeing.

Regarding a jump in the VH-71 program’s cost from $1.7 billion to $2.4 billion cited in a report by the GAO, Lockheed Martin said the program "has incurred additional cost due to modifications to the aircraft and additional testing that were not originally anticipated. The program is on track to the original contract schedule to deliver five new pilot production aircraft to the Marine Corps in time" to fly the president in October 2009.

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