Procurement: The Presidential Helicopter That Won't Die

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October 17, 2009: Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense cancelled the contract 28 US101 helicopters (to be the new Marine One, and received the designation VH-71). The deal, to build helicopters to support the U.S. president and his staff, had grown from a program for 23 helicopters, for $283 million each, to 28 helicopters, for $464 million each. The program was also six years behind schedule. The White House and the Pentagon kept adding changes, and new features, and the supplier (Agusta) was unable to cope.

So the Department of Defense has promised to get another VH-71 program going, that will cost less, and have VH-71 helicopters ready for service in eleven years. Cancelling the Agusta effort cost $3 billion. Agusta had developed a 15.6 ton helicopter that could carry 5.4 tons and a crew of four. The chopper could carry 14 seated passengers, or 45 people standing. Max speed was 309 kilometers an hour and max range was 1389 kilometers. Ceiling was 15,000 feet (4,575 meters.) The new VH-71 is expected to have similar characteristics. The current fleet consists of 19 modified 10 ton S-61s and 10.6 ton UH-60s.

 


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