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New Presidential Helicopter Takes a Strange Twist for Boeing

by: Matthew Potter
June 9, 2010

Category: Agusta Westland, Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Congress, Countries, Department of Defense, development program, EADS, Events, Finemeccanica, Italy, K-CX News, KC-X, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, northrop grumman, Northrop Grumman Corp., production program, Proposal, Services, Sikorsky, U.S. Air Force | RSS 2.0

Boeing (BA) has announced that for their entry into the new Presidential transport helicopter they will license and build the Augusta Westland AW101 aircraft. Augusta Westland of course is part of the Italian Finmeccanica (FNC:MI) group of companies. Lockheed Martin (LMT) had teamed with the overseas supplier on the canceled VH-71 program originally intended to replace the current fleet of VH-3 and VH-60 aircraft used to move President Obama and his predecessors around.

The VH-71 was canceled due to cost and schedule growth caused primarily by the massive increase of requirements once the original contract was let. The new aircraft was designed to take into account the changed threat since 9/11 and required complex communications and defensive systems as well as high performance requirements. This meant that the program to build less then twenty-five aircraft ended up costing billions of dollars.

The Navy plans to launch a new contest soon for this critical system. Lockheed this time around has already announced that they will team with Sikorsky rather then Augusta on their new proposal.

Boeing certainly has their own aircraft such as the CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter and even the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor that could be used. It seems that this decision is being made because the size of the aircraft will be one of the factors considered. The footprints of the CH-47 and V-22 are much larger then a single rotor systems like the EH101 or the Sikorsky S-92 aircraft.

The twist of all this though is that Boeing has spent the last four years arguing that EADS‘ (EADS:P) participation in the new KC-X aerial tanker contract is not only bad for America’s economy and jobs but even for its security. It now seems a little ironic that Boeing is doing what Northrop Grumman (NOC) did for the last failed attempt at awarding this contract. Boeing even argues like EADS that the aircraft will be assembled in the U.S. thus creating jobs here.

It might be a little difficult for all of the “Buy American” Boeing supporters in Congress to swallow something like this. Lockheed and Sikorsky are able to make the same arguments that Boeing has done over the KC-X. Even in the complicated world of international defense contracting this move while it makes perfect sense may be a hard sell for the U.S. aircraft manufacturer.

Photo from charlo.be flickr photostream.

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2 Comments

  1. Boeing Plans for New Presidential Helicopter Have a Role in KC-X on June 9th, 2010 2:13 am

    […] is a post I wrote at Defense Procurement News about Boeing’s (BA) decision to use the Augusta Westland 101 as the base aircraft for their new Presidential transport helicopter bid. It makes them look a […]

  2. Tweets that mention New Presidential Helicopter Takes a Strange Twist for Boeing | Defense Procurement News -- Topsy.com on June 9th, 2010 4:55 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by George Talbot, DefProcureNews. DefProcureNews said: New Presidential Helicopter Takes a Strange Twist for Boeing: Boeing (BA) has announced that for their entry into… http://bit.ly/bJQmfy […]

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