It's the orphan
helicopter program. The President and the Defence Department have
both said the don't want the VH-71, but the House Armed Services
Committee is still trying to breath life into the aircraft that was
to have become Marine One. DoD had originally planned to buy 23
aircraft in what was called "Increment 1"
But soaring costs and long delays caused Defense Secretary
Robert Gates to end the program. He said the aircraft no longer met
the necessary requirements, and would not be in service long enough
to justify building them. In the Defense Authorization Bill passed
this week by the committee, $85 million was allocated to basically
shut down the program, and direct contractors to start designing a
new aircraft designated "VXX".
But Congressional Quarter is reporting that in that bill (HR
2647)is language that "strongly suggests" that the Pentagon go
ahead and buy more "Increment 1" helicopters. Members and aides
said Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD) requested that the report
include:“The committee notes that this approach will leverage
the investment already made by the taxpayer in developing a
helicopter that would meet all normal requirements of the
Lockheed Martin is a major contributor to Representative
Bartlett, CQ reports.
Still, other committee members say the bill honors both the
President's and DoD request to do away with the embattled
helicopter. Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor, who chairs the
relevant subcommittee for the project, says the language has no
real meaning when it comes to allocating money. “We both know
the difference between ‘directs’ and ‘strongly
recommends,’ ” Taylor said. He said President Obama has
no objections to the helicopters currently serving as "Marine One"
when he is on board.