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Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin Partner up

By Ron Whitney

It would appear that the project to replace the aging fleet of Presidential helicopters might not be quite as dead as previously thought.

Announcing their “teaming agreement” on April 19, 2010 Sikorsky will take the lead as prime contractor, with Lockheed taking on the role of major sub-systems supplier. Sikorsky has been the prime provider of Presidential heli- copters for over 50 years. Replacing the aging fleet of VH-3D helicopters has been a priority of the Department of the Navy. A priority that has given them fits for nearly a dozen years. In February of 2005, the Department selected the Agusta Westland/Lockheed/ Bell Helicopter Textron as the successful bidder to replace the President’s medium lift heli- copter fleet.

Contract modifications, design changes, reengineering, and runaway cost increases led to the cancellation of the VH-71

program shortly after the Obama administration took office. Estimated costs of the VH-71 program, upon its can- cellation, were around $11.2 billion U.S. dollars. “We’re thrilled to team with Lockheed Martin to provide taxpayers and the U.S. govern- ment with a common sense solution for the next presiden- tial aircraft both in terms of economy and technology,” said Scott Starrett, president of Sikorsky Military Systems. “For nearly four decades, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have teamed successfully to produce Naval Hawk™ helicopters, so we have a proven and formidable track record as a team.” “Our VXX teaming agree- ment builds on an existing and highly successful 38-year rela- tionship between Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky,” said Dan Spoor, Aviation Systems vice president at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors in Owego, N.Y. “Formally com- bining Sikorsky’s success build- ing and supporting the Marine One fleet with our understand- ing of the systems integration

requirements will allow our team to offer a low-risk trans- port solution to the Office of the President.”

Putting the Commercial Off the Shelf (COS) concept to the test, Sikorsky will offer the H- 92™ as the main platform, and Lockheed Martin will handle the subsystem package. There has been no formal announce- ment as to the percentage of system components that will be produced in the US. In addition to the VXX

teaming agreement, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore other joint business ventures.

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