Over at Politics One the guys know how I feel about replacing the current fleet of Marine One helicopters….But I’ll repeat my argument because I am overjoyed that the House has held on, and kept money in the budget to go on with replacing the current aging helicopters…….
The Current Marine One helicopter fleet is made up of several aircraft, of which only two types of choppers actually carry the president. The primary one is the Sikorsky VH-3D, that was put into service starting in 1962 thru 1978……The newer choppers are Sikorsky VH-60, acquired beginning in 1989…….As you can see these airframes have been in service for almost 30 years!
While the helicopter’s that carry the Commander – in – Chief are kept in pristine condition…the fact remains that the airframes are old, labor intensive and tired……no other aircraft with the service life of these helo’s would be allowed to transport the President of the United States……The President’s plane, Air Force One is almost 19 years old…and plans are being made to replace those two VC-25\’s which are Boeing 747-200B type aircraft, in the future ( they will be replaced with the new B-747-800 series aircraft).
About two years ago the Marines had a competition for a new Helo between the Sikorsky S-92 and the Lockheed/Augusta-Westland AW101……the L/AW101 won the competition walking away…..With three engines instead of the S-92’s two…..The AW101, a bigger, and roomer air craft, flew farther and faster , and has an added safety factor of an additional engine. In addition, while the S-92 was a completely new program…the AW Merlin, the English version, had a good number of air hours under its belt when it was picked…….
From the start Sikorsky reverted to a’ buy american’ rational to try to derail the winning choice…..Even while the United States was pushing the American made F-35 against other foreign fighter jets around the world to countries looking to buy new generation fighters…….
The bad guys in this was the White House Military Office..the place that controls anything military that transports the president, and the Secret Service. Both developed ‘mission creep’ on the Marine One airframe…..The new Helo , which would only be used to transport the CIC no more than 15 minutes anywhere, was asked to have an executive wash room, an Air Force One comparable communications suite, and other amenities. Of course, this stuff adds weight to the aircraft…..and weight means a sturdier airframe, which means more weight…bigger rotor blades, stronger engine, etc…all of this stuff means more money…..I will repeat, that these add on’s came from the White House Military Office, and the Secret Service…..not the manufacture (this scenario has been confirmed by the Navy)……so the cost of the contract balloons to $400 million a helo!……
Well, the buy american people now scream that there is a cost over run…….
People…… I like Sec Gates…And I like the President…but on this one they are wrong……..
To cancel this program is asinine…..and clearly wrong…..
The CIC is riding around in a chopper that is almost as old as he is……The Lockheed helo’s are clearly superior to the Sikorsky model’s…..and the government already owns six choppers right now…..the choppers are received in Upstate NY form Europe, and then American workers outfit the AW101’s which have been renamed, the VH-71 Kestrel, by the Marines, and the Navy…
Finally…the Navy will rebid the WHOLE CONTRACT soon because guess what?……The president needs new helicopters!
The last straw is some knuckleheads think that the new bids will be cheaper than keeping the six choppers…….. They already have …….And adding six more to complete the fleet!
Am I missing something here?????
Or is this a round about way of saying we’re going to give the president the loser and the clearly inferior chopper because it’s built by Sikorsky (hint, hint)……
If the President and Sec of Defense veto this …they are doing the American taxpayer, and themselves, a great disservice……..
Note:……for a more in-depth analysis of the situation I have described please check this link to Rotor and Wing……I don’t think I missed the boat, er helicopter here at all…something simply doesn’t make sense on this….
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