PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 22 Feb. 2012. U.S. Navy aviation officials are asking helicopter designers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., to overhaul and update two VH-3D and one VH-60N executive helicopters, which are part of the Navy's VIP helicopter fleet used to transport the president and vice president of the United States, as well as other high-ranking dignitaries.
Sikorsky will do the helicopter overhaul work under terms of a $20.5 million contract modification awarded Tuesday by officers at the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. The VH-3D and one VH-60N executive helicopters operate under the designation Marine One and Marine Two when transporting the president and vice president.
Sikorsky helicopter experts are doing the executive helicopter maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) work as part of the Navy's Special Progressive Aircraft Rework (SPAR) program with Sikorsky that provides money to ensure the presidential helicopter fleet is maintained and updated to the highest possible standards.
SPAR Work often involves helicopter avionics, engine, and mechanical systems work, as well as repainting the aircraft, to maintain them for the highest reliability possible.
Among the reasons for the SPAR program is to keep existing military executive helicopters flying in tip-top shape after cancellation in June 2009 of the Lockheed Martin VH-71 program to buy 28 new executive helicopters to replace the existing presidential helicopter fleet. President Barack Obama and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates cancelled the VH-71 program because of its high cost -- anticipated at more than $13 billion for 28 new executive helicopters.
Engineers at the Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego segment in Owego, N.Y., had begun developing the new presidential helicopter when the program was cancelled, and what was left in the Navy's VH-71 contract fund went into the SPAR program with Sikorsky.
On the current job to update these three presidential helicopters, Sikorsky will do the work in Stratford, Conn., and should be finished by this September. For more information contact Sikorsky Aircraft online at www.sikorsky.com, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.