Sunday, March 1, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Marine One chopper plans still grounded

By
From page A10 | October 11, 2013 |

The issue: Skyrocketing costs force a new round of bids, but opposition remains

In 2002, the White House and the U.S. Navy decided the president should have a new Marine One helicopter. The one he was flying in, and for that matter is still flying in, was based on a design then 30 years old.

THE NAVY began seeking bids for what it called the VXX procurement program. A spirited bidding war ensued among the U.S. companies Sikorsky (which had been making the earlier Marine Ones) and Lockheed, the Italian-English firm AgustaWestland, Europe’s Airbus and Brazil’s Embraer.

One by one, the bidders dropped out as the White House and Secret Service began adding more specifications to the program. Among them: crashworthiness; a kitchen; state-of-the-art defensive measures such as advanced radar, laser detectors and counter-measures against missiles; and a communications systems that would allow secure video-conferencing between the president and advisers anywhere in the world.

All of this, of course, costs money. The original development contract ballooned from $6.2 billion to $11 billion and the cost per presidential helicopter rose to $400 million. As congressional critics delighted in pointing out, that’s more costly than the president’s Air Force One Boeing 747.

Because of the cost, Congress canceled the program in 2009. The Republicans had a brief stab at blaming the cost overruns on Barack Obama, who, in fact, was not yet president. Obama said the existing helicopter seemed perfectly adequate to him, although, “of course, I’ve never had a helicopter before. Maybe I was deprived and didn’t know it.”

LAST NOVEMBER, the Navy solicited bids for a new Marine One under the VXX procurement program. A number of aircraft manufacturers expressed interest, but by the deadline this summer, when bids were due, all but one had dropped out.

That company is Sikorsky, builder of the existing fleet of Marine Ones. Critics claim the specifications had been deliberately tailored so only one company fit the bill.

The losers are likely to enlist their allies in Congress to reopen the bidding with different criteria. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who played a key role in killing the original deal, is vowing to fight the new helicopter if he finds the plan “unsatisfactory.”

The first of 21 helicopters are to be delivered in 2020. That means the only way Obama will fly in the new Marine One is as a guest of his successor or, quite possibly, his successor’s successor.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Sheriff: Mother ‘sole person responsible’ for infant’s death

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Rifle Team has a blast with competitive shooting

    By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Child abduction case in jury’s hands

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    Pipeline project will soften water in 2016

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Pig out at Farmers Market’s Pig Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

     
    Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Christie to Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Colon prep can be hard to swallow

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Scouts help fill STEAC’s pantry

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Parole denied in 1987 killing spree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Explore Asia at Arboretum storytime

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    MU Games closing in late March

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Still no parole in toddler case

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    City offers wetlands tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    UCD student with meningococcal disease is recovering

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Young patients bond with special stuffies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Diversity theater group continues creativity workshops

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Radio talk show moves to Mondays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Assault awareness campaign kicks off

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    UCD student panel to cover anti-Semitism, Islamophobia

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Yolo Food Bank hosts thank-you breakfast on Pig Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Forum

    Mars or ISIS? Similar outcome

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    City may get charged up over energy choices

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Milt Priggee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    Rowing: PE as well as life skills

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Police complaint procedures drafted

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Clarifying energy update letter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Weekly claw pickup necessary

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Design innovation centers for the 21st century

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B5

     
    A new perspective on life

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

    Distant water crisis has lessons for Davis

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

     
    Call for study to settle if anesthesia poses risk to babies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Devils get a soccer win despite finishing woes

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Winning close games is the key for DHS softballers

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie men get a bounce-back win at Cal Poly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    The mystery continues: lowly Gauchos upset UCD women

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Razo throws well as Aggies get a baseball win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Defending champion Blue Devils have diamond holes to fill

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Republic FC falls to storied New York Cosmos

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Yolo Federal Credit Union honored for supporting business education

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Online store will celebrate, mock People’s Republic of Davis

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, March 1, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8