The U.S. Navy has selected the Sikorsky S-92 for the VXX Presidential Helicopter program as part of a $1.24 billion contract award. The helicopter will be known as Marine One when the president is aboard, according to a Wednesday Pentagon contract announcement.
“This contract provides for the procurement of six test aircraft and the associated support equipment, integration of mature government-defined mission systems, a training system including a flight training device and a maintenance training device, logistics, engineering, and test and evaluation support,” according to the announcement.
VXX is an unusual program in that Sikorsky — which offered its S-92 helicopter to replace the Navy’s increasingly aged fleet of Sikorsky VH-3 and VH-60 VIP transport aircraft — was the only bidder.
The original program, which had selected the Augusta Westland 101 as the VH-71 Kestrel, was a posterchild for mission creep and requirements bloat. Both the program agent (NAVAIR) and the White House kept adding so much to the program it collapsed under its own weight. Seriously, does Marine One really need a full service galley to cook hot meals? The President only rides for a half hour or so. Give him a sammich and a thermos.
The VH-3 and VH-60 fleets are terribly old. And it is time to replace them. And the S-92 is a capable, relatively popular helicopter, one which, in our opinion, probably should have replaced the CH-46 at much lower cost than the MV-22 chosen instead.
From what I’m hearing, the tender for bids for VXX was written in such a manner as to virtually guarantee the selection of Sikorsky this time. So narrowly tailored was the request that, as noted, no one else even bothered to submit.