Concept of the Sikorsky VH-92 helicopter for the US Government Executive Transport mission. (Matt Grasso / Sikorsky)
WASHINGTON — The US Navy has officially selected Sikorsky to develop the next-generation of presidential helicopters.
The contract, a $1.2 billion deal, covers the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement program. The EMD phase calls for the procurement of six test aircraft and two simulators, with an October 2020 completion date.
Sikorsky plans to deliver 21 aircraft to the Marines by 2023; $42 million for fiscal 2014 is being awarded to start the program immediately.
The Sikorsky design, a modified version of its S-92 helicopter, will also feature work by Lockheed Martin. Work will primarily be performed at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, plant, although facilities in Owego, New York, and Coatesville, Pennsylvania, will also receive some work.
The selection of Sikorsky is hardly a surprise, as the rotorcraft giant was the only bidder on the program. Although the Navy had publicly said it desired competition for the contract, teams from Northrop Grumman-AgustaWestland and Bell-Boeing declined to bid after studying the requirements. Defense News reported Tuesday that the selection was imminent.
The president is currently carried in Sikorsky-made VH-3D and VH-60N aircraft, something the company noted in its announcement of the award.
“We are honored by this news and the vote of confidence in the Sikorsky team and the proven S-92 platform,” Sikorsky President Mick Maurer said in a company statement. “For 57 years, our company has been trusted with the critical responsibility of building and supporting a safe and reliable helicopter fleet for the President of the United States. We are proud of our record and the bright future for our company. We stand ready to deliver the next Marine One, the world’s most advanced executive transport helicopter.”
A Navy spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Navy has been attempting to award the contract for the presidential helicopter, formally known as VXX, since the mid-2000s. Sikorsky lost the contract to a team of Lockheed and AgustaWestland in 2005, before requirements creep led to increased costs and the eventual cancellation of that contract in 2009. After some delay, the new competition began in November of 2012. ■