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Tue, Jan 15, 2008

Report: Lockheed's Marine One Program In Jeopardy Due To Cost Overruns

Sikorsky May Be Asked To Resubmit Its Bid

As ANN reported Friday, the first two VH-71 helicopters built to serve as Marine One for the President of the United States have entered the flight test phase at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. Over the next 11 months, the initial fleet of five presidential helicopters are scheduled to be among additional test aircraft delivered.

But now, it's not clear the program will continue.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Friday that Lockheed Martin's contract to provide the aircraft might be at risk of imminent cancellation. The project is late and likely to run well over its $6 billion budget, in part because the helicopters were spec'd with so much armor and gadgetry it wasn't clear the underlying AgustaWestland design could even carry the weight in summer weather.

Among the options under consideration by the Pentagon, according to the journal's unnamed source, is to ask Sikorsky to send over a modified S-92.

That would no doubt be a source of great amusement at Sikorsky... whose proven VH-3D and VH-60N helos currently serve as Marine One, but saw its newer helicopter lose out to Lockheed's bid, based on a British airframe, in January 2005.

Lockheed has chosen to remain upbeat, commenting only that it continues evaluating options with the Navy on how to proceed with the program.

FMI: www.teamus101.com/index.cfm

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