US Navy moves ahead to replace presidential helicopters
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Navy is moving forward with a long-delayed effort to replace the aging fleet of Marine One helicopters that transport the US president, with the first of the new aircraft slated to enter service in 2020.
The Navy's last attempt to buy a new presidential helicopter ended in 2009, when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates cancelled a program run by Lockheed Martin Corp after numerous requirement changes threatened to double the cost of the program to more than US$13 billion ($15.89 billion).
On Friday, the Navy issued a draft request for proposals that maps out its plan to buy 25 new helicopters, giving companies until Dec 5 to respond. It also invited bidders to an unclassified conference to be held the week of Dec 10, when government officials will answer questions about the proposed terms of the competition.
This time, Lockheed Martin is paired with Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, offering Sikorsky's S-92 helicopter.