Sikorsky wins bid to build six helicopters

The Navy on Wednesday awarded Sikorsky Aircraft an initial $1.24 billion contract to build six presidential helicopters that would begin to replace the current aging fleet, known for delivering heads of state on the South Lawn of the White House.

The contract is the Navy’s second attempt in recent years to develop a new fleet of Marine One helicopters and will be closely monitored by watchdogs Congress. In 2009, the Pentagon killed the previous contract after costs doubled to $13 billion and cost taxpayers $3.2 billion and did not produce an operable helicopter.

Defense officials have vowed to get it right this time. They said the new helicopters won’t be nearly as ambitious, or expensive, as the versions of helicopters they tried to build last time.

But some are worried that there appears to have been just one bidder this time, Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies, which built the current presidential helicopters. Sikorsky lost out on the previous contract to a team of AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin. Lockheed will work with Sikorsky on the new contract.

By 2019, the Navy is expected to begin ordering the rest of the 21-helicopter fleet, which is expected to be ready by 2023, the company said.

— Christian Davenport

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