WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy is moving forward with a long-delayed effort to replace the aging fleet of Marine One helicopters that transport the U.S. 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 $13 billion.
The VH-71 program was a fiasco because neither the Navy nor the White House was willing to exercise any discipline at all in trimming the requirements. Seriously, does the President really need live, secure video teleconference capability in Marine One? Voice coms, sure. But for a platform he’s rarely in for more than 30 minutes at a time? Or a fully equipped galley for hot meals? Dude, pack a thermos and a damn sammich!
Sadly, I expect this current pledge for a reasonable, disciplined buy to again succumb to bloat, contractors lowballing then coming back for money, and the usual contractor protests to GAO and the courts. I guess the only way the Marine One fleet will ever get a reasonably priced replacement is when the President gets killed in a helo crash.