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Next Presidential Helicopter Passes First Test Landing at White House

A Sikorsky VH-92A lands at the White House during a test on September 22, 2018. The VH-92A will become the new presidential transport helicopter, replacing an aging fleet of VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters. Naval Air Systems Command photo.

The next Presidential helicopter, the VH-92A built by Sikorsky, successfully landed at the White House during its first test run September, Naval Air Systems Command told USNI News this week.

Before most of Washington D.C. awoke on Saturday, Sept. 22, the VH-92A swooped in over the National Mall and landed on the White House lawn for the first time.

As part of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program, Sikorsky was in 2014 awarded a $1.2 billion contract to build a fleet of six helicopters to start, but with options for the Navy to purchase up to 17 more helicopters. Lockheed Martin purchased Sikorsky after the contract award.

More than a decade ago, Lockheed Martin beat out then rival Sikorsky in a 2005 competition for the contract to build the next generation of Presidential helicopters. However, years of delays and cost overruns with the Lockheed VH-71 helicopter program – the original 2005 $6.5 billion cost quickly ballooned to $13 billion by December 2008 – spurred the Pentagon to scrap the program and start over with a new request for proposals, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

A Sikorsky VH-92A lands at the White House, with the Washington Monument in the background, during a September test. Naval Air Systems Command photo.

The second time around, Sikorsky won the competition by submitting the VH-92A, a variant of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter which is used by 11 other nations to transport their heads of state, according to Sikorsky. The fleet of VH-92As will replace the aging fleet of Sikorsky-built VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters currently used by the Marine Corps to transport the President.

The VH-92A that landed at the White House is the first helicopter under the contract to be delivered to NAVAIR. The initial operational capability is expected to occur in late 2020, and the full production line is on track to complete in 2023, according to NAVAIR.

Vertiflite Magazine first reported the VH-92A test in its November/December issue.

  • DaSaint

    The commercial S-92 bird has an excellent reputation.

    • Ruckweiler

      DaSaint:
      The S-92 always looks like a baby CH-53 to me.

      • DaSaint

        Agree. You can see the genetic lineage.

      • Oskar

        The H-60 drivetrain attached to an H-3 style fuselage, IMHO.

        Off the shelf VH-71’s would have been better.

    • Oskar

      Not in Newfoundland…

  • RDF

    Not sure how you spend 13 billion to get a helo variant. That is some variant.

    • Gary Himert

      Redesign of electrical and cooling systems to support electronics and defensive countermeasures, upgrade all wiring to the higher DOD and security specs, install EMP and NSA level EMI/RFI components, and allow for mounting of all the additional comms gear. Submit to FAA and NAVAIR for type certification and airworthiness, and NSA for testing of comms, the list goes on, it’s easy to see how that happens, even with a COTS airframe to start with

      • TomD

        Yep, the EMP shielding in the windows alone is a pretty penny.

        • Curtis Conway

          it’s a Gold Standard.

          • Refguy

            LOL

        • Gary Himert

          I’ll agree to disagree. Show me one S-92 flying in the oil field service with missile warning detection or active countermeasures for starters. We can continue through the systems. It’s not Sikorsky requiring the aircraft have these systems. It’s the White House Military Office, the Secret Service and Marine Corps. It’s the same thing that happened on the predecessor, VH-101. When the USSS and the military added all the “mission essentials” it needed more rotor diameter and a resulting tail boom extension. Finally it weighed more that it could ever safely lift.

          • TomD

            I’m fully aware that Sikorsky does not drive the specs. Nearly everyone knows this.

      • vetww2

        Absolutely absurd. There is not ONE unique or newly developed item on the new helo. Did I read it correctly 200 million per copy? Do they throw in a new Air Force One as a premium?

      • RDF

        I still think 13 billion is a bit much. I did the IDS for 1553 bus traffic for the older sh3 helo. I know you are right. 13 billion is 3 F35 squadrons. I say he can drive and we tdke the F35 aircraft.

    • vetww2

      Keep it quiet.

  • vetww2

    How come, he didn’t get a V-22? According to the hype it is in ALL ways superior to this old fashioned helo. And please don’t insult me by saying that it messes up the lawn.

    • Curtis Conway

      For the same reason Air Force One is sticking with four engines. It’s all about RISK. If the Secret Service can get an extra margin in any area that reduces risk, they will do it. Many of the support staff ride on the [non-white top] V-22s.

      • vetww2

        Sorry to sound perjorative, but this response is well beneath your usual.

        • Curtis Conway

          The MV-22B Ospreys in the HMX-1 livery replaced the CH-53E Sea Stallions. They are solid green (with some stripes) and no white top.

          • vetww2

            I have not found V-22s in the Marine assignment list. Could you give me a reference?

          • Oskar

            What did VMX-1 fly previously and currently?

          • GaryLockhart

            What did VMX-1(sic) fly previously and currently?
            HMX-1 has operated a number of platforms over the years. Currently they fly the VH-3D, VH-60N and MV-22B.

    • Secundius

      BAD Developmental Track Record…

      • Oskar

        Yeah, the B-1 and F-111 didn’t work out, did they?

        • Secundius

          And yet they were Both Used! As I recall, the Australians LOVED there F-111C’s…

          • Oskar

            Exactly. These amateurs really should think before displaying their ignorance.
            How many F-4’s were lost in the first few years? Harriers? The mighty F-14?

          • Secundius

            How many B-29’s were LOST before even getting of the Ground…

          • vetww2

            Australia got them for nothing.

          • Secundius

            Nothing spent, but a lot of usage…

        • vetww2

          You have got to be joshing. The F-111, originally TFX (That F……Xperiment, was, originally meant by McNamarra to be an all service fighter-bomber/interceptor. When it failed ALL qualification tests, it was rammed down the A/Fs throat by the “boy genius”.
          Interesting point, you might enjoy. It had a 90# forging in its tail to accomodate an arresting hook, for the Navy version. The B-1 is quite a different story. The A/F had too much invested in the B-52
          and the developed strategy, to really consider a new bomber. A simple truth.

          • Oskar

            Yet, the F-111 served for decades and did quite well in Desert Storm and the RAAF kept them around for quite a while.

            The B-1A was cancelled by Carter, that nonce in the name of “peace”.

            Luckily, Reagan resurrected it as the B-1B.

            Simple fact.

    • disqus_CbFK3MPhJu

      pressurized?

    • Duane

      The V-22 is an entirely different class of VTOL airrcraft from the VH-22 used for Marine One operations. The V-22 is more than double the weight of the S-92 class of choppers. Marine One is just personal transportation for the President and at most a few of his family and closest staffers, on short to medium range flights, where high cruising speed is not an important capability. V-22 is different in every respect.

      • GaryLockhart

        The V-22 is an entirely different class of VTOL airrcraft(sic) from the VH-22(sic) used for Marine One
        The MV-22Bs flown by HMX-1 are very similar to the MV-22Bs being flown in the FMF. The MV-22Bs flown by HMX-1 are not equipped with the same countermeasures and comm suites as the VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns that transport the President. However, that is not to say that the President would be prevented from flying aboard an Osprey. The HMX-1 Sea Knight that Clinton used to view flood damage in 1993 lacked the same equipment.

  • Michelle Evans

    Just hope this helicopter can fly in the rain. Wouldn’t want the prez to miss any more ceremonies.

  • Secundius

    You “Asked”, I “Answered”! If you already knew the Answer, why bother Asking…

  • Secundius

    That’s because the “Green Tops” MV-22B’s are a Support Element and not a VIP “White Top” Transporter Element of HMX-1…

    ( https : // www . hqmc . marines . mil /hmx-1 / About / )

  • Curtis Conway

    There you go again Duane. The sample set size for your analysis doesn’t even make it a comparison. Apples to apples my friend.

  • Secundius

    IS the USMC using the MV-22 “AS A” Presidential Transport. The answer is either YES or NO. “Green Top” MV-22’s are NOT VIP and/or Presidential Transports…

  • Secundius

    In the “Long Run”, the VH-92A is MUCH Safer as a {“Presidential”} Tranporter then the (V)MV-22B is…

  • Curtis Conway

    Duane, your thin skin and inability to actually think, but just jump to conclusions is amazing! I am a V-22 Osprey fan. All of your information on their safety record since acceptance is correct, though to be fair, you deliberately do not reveal actual Class-A accident rate for the V-22, which has escalated a bit over the last three years. This is probably why the Corps is trying to get the count of different model configurations down to at least five.

    The number of V-22s functioning in the world is measured in single digit hundreds, and probably will for the foreseeable future. the number of helicopters operating in the world is in the tens of thousands.

    The sample set size has a huge influence on the safety calculations and safety standing of any platform. If that number had not been good, I guarantee you that the Japanese would not be adopting it into their forces.

    The crash of one in a several hundred is one thing. The crash of one in tens of thousands is something different entirely, from a statistical point of view. When speaking to the safety of ANYTHING, this is the reality upon which truth is built, not an attempt bend the issue to your way of thinking.

    THAT is all I am saying.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I did not know that. Interesting.