Let’s try this again:
The U.S. Navy last week announced plans for a competition to develop and build a new fleet of presidential helicopters.
The draft notice came three years after the service canceled a contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. for a similar program after costs more than doubled to $13 billion from $6 billion. The increases were driven partly by changing specifications for the aircraft.
As part of the new program, known as VXX, the Navy plans to buy about two dozen helicopters to replace aging VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N WhiteHawk aircraft made by United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky unit. The Nov. 23 announcement makes it clear the Navy is looking for a proven design.
“Offerors will be highly encouraged to propose an existing, in-production helicopter platform from which the VXX will be derived,” it states.
Four companies have responded to the notice so far, including Sikorsky. The subsidiary of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies has partnered with Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed to compete for the program.
While the Navy buys the helicopters, the Marine Corps flies them.
And when the president is aboard, the call-sign of the chopper is “Marine One.”