Boeing has reached agreement with AgustaWestland to licence build the AW101 in the US as its bid for the VXX US Presidential Helicopter replacement program.
Boeing says, unlike the previous arrangement between Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland which resulted in the US101, it is not partnering with anyone, rather it has secured the data and production rights to the what it is now calling the ‘Boeing 101’ helicopter. The US101 was selected ahead of Sikorsky’s H-92 based offering in the previous VXX contest, only to suffer from severe cost blowouts and capability creep which saw the project cancelled.
“We are excited to offer the capabilities of this proven aircraft to the Department of the Navy as it completes the Analysis of Alternatives for this critical mission,” Boeing Rotorcraft Systems vice president and general manager, Phil Dunford, said in a statement. “As a leading original equipment manufacturer in the military helicopter market and with our nearly 50 years of experience in presidential transport, we believe we are uniquely positioned to make the most of the Navy’s significant investment in this aircraft.”
The move effectively kills off any notions that Boeing was going to bid a version of the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor for VXX, but also opens the company up for criticism from rival EADS which is pitching its European designed A330 against Boeing’s 767 for the USAF’s KC-X tanker program.
“We’re pleased that Boeing has openly acknowledged the contribution that international teams, products and platforms make to US national security,” EADS said in a statement. “For several years, Boeing and its allies have been harshly critical of the participation of EADS North America in the KC-X tanker competition. With this announcement, we now expect Boeing to cease its shrill rhetoric and finally allow the KC-X competition to focus on the merits of the tanker offerings.”
For its part, Lockheed Martin is now teaming with Sikorsky to offer the H-92, a helicopter it had previously claimed was inferior to the US101.