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Northrop-Agusta Team To Bid on White House Helo

Sep. 18, 2012 - 01:21PM   |  
By TOM KINGTON and MARCUS WEISGERBER   |   Comments
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Northrop Grumman has joined the race to supply the White House with its next presidential helicopter by announcing it will team with AgustaWestland to offer the Italian firm’s AW101.

The new deal, announced on Sept. 18, covers “the Navy’s recently announced program to develop a new “Marine One Presidential Helicopter,” the statement said. “A U.S. built helicopter based on the AW101 platform will be offered by Northrop Grumman to meet these requirements.”

The deal also extends to an agreement to respond to anticipated requests for the new Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program to replace the service’s 112 Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawks, the firms said.

AgustaWestland had previously partnered with Lockheed Martin to pitch the AW101 on the Air Force’s Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter program, which was canceled in 2009.

Lockheed is now partnered with Sikorsky for CRH. Boeing is also expected to pitch the Chinook in the competition.

The agreement on the White House program effectively severs AgustaWestland’s previous deal to team with Boeing. Signed in 2010, that deal involved Boeing receiving the license from Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland to produce the AW101 helicopter, obtaining full intellectual property, data and production rights for the AW101 within the remit of the VXX program.

Under the deal, the helicopter was due to become a Boeing aircraft, built by Boeing personnel at one of its U.S. facilities.

AgustaWestland previously teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the helicopter to the White House. The AW101 was picked in 2005, only for the program to be canceled over costs. With the revival of the competition, Lockheed Martin teamed with Sikorsky, which lost out the first time around.

The Air Force was supposed to release a request for proposals for the program last month; however, Pentagon acquisition officials found issues with the document during an August program review, according to sources.

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