US101 Gets House Approval for Marine One, Seeks SAR Contract
The House Armed Service Panel’s approval of the FY 2006 defense appropriations bill was also a critical step toward ensuring the $1.6 billion Marine One Presidential Helicopter contract awarded earlier this year goes to the Lockheed-AugustaWestland “Team US101” partnership. Congressional maneuvering had left this result in some doubt. Under the Marine One program, 26 helicopters – three test units and 23 production aircraft – are to be produced. The contract will lead to the creation of 750 jobs at the Lockheed Martin Systems Integration plant in Owego, NY.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has signed a teaming agreement with ITT Industries of Clifton, NJ. The agreement will support Team US101’s bid to win the U.S. Air Force’s upcoming 132-helicopter Personnel Recovery Vehicle (PRV) combat search-and-rescue helicopter competition. Under the terms of this agreement, ITT will provide critical mission systems equipment for the modified US101 helicopter, and help define the spiral growth of their systems during the life of the PRV program.
We’ll begin with US101 “Marine One” contract.
Congressional supporters of the project say the move by the committee is a “very critical” step for the program. Money for the project now is included in the House version of the Defense Appropriations bill.
In April, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) inserted an amendment to a State Department authorization bill that would have, prohibited any European companies in countries that do business with terrorist-sponsoring states from producing components of the US101 helicopter. Connecticut is also the home of Sikorsky aircraft, which manufactures the competing H-92 Superhawk helicopter, and the amendment was crafted to target AugustaWestland. Because of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) objections to the amendment, however, that bill died.
The three-engine US101 is also competing with the H-92 Superhawk in the PRV competition.
On October 01, 2003 the CSAR mission passed from Air Combat Command to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOCOM), which determined that it needed approximately 132 aircraft for combat search and rescue missions (CSAR). Traditionally, the CSAR mission has been limited to the recovery of downed aircrew from within hostile territory. However, the mission is evolving with the nature of modern warfare to enable rapid insertion and/or recovery of special operations forces. The existing HH-60 Pave Hawk from Sikorsky’s Black Hawk family is a capable rescue platform, but an aging helicopter fleet, combined with increased threat capabilities, is creating pressure for new machines.
The Air Force decided in 2001 to procure 132 medium-lift helicopters to replace the aging fleet of 105 HH-60s used for combat search-and-rescue missions, with the new aircraft delivered by 2010. Initially, the Air Force had planned to select a replacement helicopter in 2004, but in mid-2002 this was delayed by two years. The Air Force will begin the process of acquiring a new CSAR aircraft in FY05 with an award to be made in FY06. The new program is expected to involve $1.5 billion in development costs and $9.5 to 10 billion in production costs.
The American-built US101 will enable the Air Force to transport vehicles as large as a sport utility vehicle, or configure the space to accommodate 16 litters or more than 30 troops, along with weapons for 360-degree coverage of the aircraft.
The US101’s main competitor for this program is once again the H-92 SuperHawk, which lost out in the Marine One competition. It’s derived from the existing H-60 series but significantly upgraded and redesigned to compete with European helicopters like the EH-101 and NH-90. The US101 is a U.S. built version of the Eurocopter EH101; a modified civilian version is currently in CSAR service with the Canadian military (as the CH-149 Cormorant) and the military version is in use by many other NATO allies. On the other hand, the H-92 Superhawk was selected as the Martime Helicopter for the Canadian Navy, as the CH-148 Cyclone.
Additional Readings & Sources
- DID FOCUS Article – Lockheed-Martin US101 Wins U.S. Presidential Helicopter Contract (updated). Covers the project as a whole, and ongoing updates.
- Team US101 Official Web Site
- CASR DND 101 EH Industries CH-149 Cormorant
- Air Force Technology: Sikorsky H-92 Superhawk
- CASR DND 101 – Sikorsky EH-148 Cyclone
- U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet – Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk
- Air Force Technology: NATO Frigate Helicopter NH-90
- Towanda, PA Daily and Sunday Review (June 8/05) – House approves $935.9M to fund Lockheed Martin Marine One project
- Lockheed Martin (June 7/05) – Team US101 Selects ITT Industries To Support Personnel Recovery Vehicle Program
- GlobalSecurity.org – Personnel Recovery Vehicle (PRV) Combat Search and Rescue CSAR Replacement Aircraft Program
- PIXS (Preaward Information eXchange System) – Personnel Recovery Vehicle (PRV)
- Lt Gen Michael W. Wooley, USAF, Air & Space Power Journal (Spring 2005) – America’s Quiet Professionals: Specialized Airpower – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow