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Saturday, January 1, 2005

Rotorcraft Report: U.S, Postpones Decision on New Presidential Helo

MILITARY

U.S, Postpones Decision on New Presidential Helo

The U.S. Navy in mid-November 2004 again delayed selection of the supplier of the next presidential helicopter transport, this time putting off the decision until late this month. Service officials said the delay was necessary to allow more time to consider the bids of competitors in the VXX program. A Defense Acquisition Board review of the program is set for Jan. 13.

"The Navy has adopted a standard practice of discussing proposals in detail with industry to allow final submission of the highest quality proposal possible," said Lt. Chris Servello. "The Navy has determined that additional time is required to make the best possible decision for the new presidential helo."

A decision originally was slated for early 2004, in part because officials said acquisition of an aircraft to replace the aging Sikorsky VH-3Ds, which the U.S. Marine Corps' HMX-1 squadron currently uses to fly the U.S. President, needed to be fast-tracked. (The acquisition also would allow replacement of newer Sikorsky VH-60Ns.) But selection was then postponed to Dec. 17, 2004.

Lockheed Martin is offering a version of the EH101 in partnership with that aircraft's manufacturer, AgustaWestland, and Bell Helicopter. Sikorsky is offering the H-92 Superhawk for VXX. It is partnered in its bid with Vought Aircraft Industries, which would make the airframe; L-3 Communications, which would provide communications and the interior; Rockwell Collins, which would supply the cockpit, FlightSafety International, which would provide training and simulators, and Northrop Grumman, which would provide protection equipment. General Electric is the engine prime contractor for both bids.

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