Filed under: Wings
The new presidential helicopter may be the latest casualty of the economic crisis. The Lockheed Martin Corp VH-71 helicopter program was created to replace the current VH-3 helicopters which have been in service for decades. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is calling for termination of the program which has seen costs balloon as time went on. Originally a fleet of 23 helicopters created to support the president was supposed to $6.5 billion but now it is estimated to cost over $13 billion and is years behind schedule. Gates has said the Pentagon will work on new strategies for a presidential helicopter soon. At over $400 million apiece, each new VH-71 helicopter would have cost more than the last Air Force One plane.
The VH-71 is currently in the testing phase,the first operational, or pilot production VH-71 made its initial flight September 22, 2008.