Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have announced a teaming agreement to jointly bid for the US Navy’s revived VXX presidential helicopter program.
Under the agreement Sikorsky would act as prime contractor, offering its H-92 medium lift helicopter, while Lockheed Martin would act as major subsystems integrator and supplier. Under the original VXX program, cancelled last June due to program complications and cost overruns, Lockheed Martin had been under contract to supply 23 VH-71A helicopters, based on the AgustaWestand AW 101.
The US Navy is expected to award the new VXX contract in late 2011 or early 2012, with the replacement presidential helicopters not expected to enter service until 2017. In the meantime, the US Navy plans to invest US$500m (A$556m) to keep the current presidential helicopter fleet – of 11 Sikorsky VH-3Ds and eight Sikorsky VH-60s – serviceable until the long awaited replacements arrive.
Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin, which already cooperate under the ‘Team Romeo’ banner in building the MH-60R Romeo for the US Navy, have also signed a MoU to explore other business opportunities involving other Sikorsky programs.
Meanwhile Boeing is also expected to bid for the VXX program, with industry speculation suggesting AgustaWestland may team with Bell Helicopter for the requirement. Contenders have until mid June to respond to a US Navy VXX request for information (RFI).