Lockheed Martin Corp. won the fierce fight over a $6.1 billion contract to build the new U.S. presidential helicopter fleet, the Department of Defense announced Friday.The US101 is a pretty bird, but the Sikorsky S-92, a little less picturesque perhaps, is based on newer technology. According to Sikorsky,
Lockheed Martin beat out United Technologies Corp's Sikorsky unit.
Published data shows that the S-92, the baseline version of the H-92, flies farther, flies faster and carries more than the EH-101. Independent data confirms that the S-92 is lower in cost and costs less to operate.None of this is contradicted on the US101 website. Indeed, they place the winning on other items.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency have certified the S-92 to a higher standard of safety than virtually every helicopter flying today, including the EH-101. Furthermore, since certification in December 2002, the S-92 and H-92 have won every other competition against the EH-101, including selection by the governments of Canada, Turkey, and Turkmenistan; Gulf Helicopters in Qatar; and CHC, the world's largest offshore oil operator.
The US101 cabin will offer the president's staff one-third more space than the competitor's cabin, along with the capacity and flexibility to add equipment as needs change over the life of the aircraft.Yeh, that's important.
Here's my take: this was a political decision. Let's throw a bone to the Europeans and jobs to the Texans. We need to smooth things over with the Europeans, and, of course, jobs in the President's home state is a damn good thing, too.
Doesn't matter if the faster, longer range, heavier-lift, higher-tech, cheaper, safer bird is left on the ground. Nope, not at all. After all, the winner has a bigger cabin and nice seats.