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Monday, February 11, 2008

Stop-Work Order, Development Woes Keep Heat on VH-71 Team

Problems with development of the EH101-based VH-71 presidential transport helicopter leave its contractor team vulnerable to criticism and political pressure. The U.S. Navy confirmed that it told the lead contractor, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, on Dec. 21, 2007 to stop work on the second phase of VH-71 development for 90 days. That was followed by a Jan. 12 review of the program in Washington by top Pentagon acquisition officials. Now a group of 11congressional representatives, including five from Sikorsky Aircraft's home state of Connecticut, are calling on U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to re-bid the $6.1 billion contract to replace the U.S. Marine Corps' presidential helicopter fleet. They called the effort by Lockheed and partners AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter "a failing program."Separately, The Hartford Courant reports the Pentagon has asked Sikorsky to study whether it could maintain the current "Marine One" fleet of VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns until 2020, eight years longer than scheduled, to cover for delays in fielding the VH-71. For related news

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