The Navy has announced that it will terminate the VH-71 System
Development and Demonstration (SDD) program contract. The
announcement follows a Department of Defense (DoD) decision to
cancel the existing presidential helicopter replacement program.
The VH-71 was intended to replace both the VH-3D and VH-60N
aircraft currently used to conduct presidential support
Navy contract N00019-05-C-0030 and associated work with Lockheed
Martin Systems Integration - Owego (LMSI-O), Owego, N.Y., awarded
Jan. 28, 2005, for the SDD of the VH-71 program, has been
terminated for the convenience of the government.
The under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and
logistics issued a VH-71 program acquisition decision memorandum on
May 15, 2009, which directed the program be cancelled, to include
both Increment 1 and Increment 2.
Just a few days ago, Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa
pleaded for the Pentagon continue to go ahead with the VH-71
program. The VH-71 is based on the AW101 helicopter built by
Italian firm AgustaWestland in Italy and the United Kingdom. In the
letter to Gates, La Russa "expressed his concerns over the ongoing
debate about the presidential helicopter, offered the assistance of
the Italian government, and called for close cooperation by the
manufacturer in order to find the most opportune way to
successfully realize the program."
"The cancellation of the VH-71 program would negatively impact
jobs and the industrial base in Italy and the U.K. It is
fundamental for all allied countries to maintain a strong,
autonomous defense industrial capability, and this program is a key
element in the pursuit of that strategy."