The USN Navy has awarded a $542 million contract to build the first six production spec VH-92A for Presidential transport duties, otherwise being known as Marine One.
As part of low rate initial production lot 1, the helicopters will be delivered between 2021 and 2023, with a total of 21 VH-71s anjd 2 CH-71s planned to be introduced by the eventual end of the program.
On 30 May the US Navy decided that development was far enough advanced for production and made the Milestone C decision to move the aircraft into production. The aircraft will be used for the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation when they enter service and and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is expected in late 2020.
The VH-72 is based on the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, a proven civilian platform instead of a combat helicopter like previous types. The aircraft are being purchased to replaced the aging mixed fleet of VH-3D and VH-60N. The original competition, called VXX was launched in 2002 and initially won by the Lockheed Martin VH-71, itself a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin, but after years of overruns, both financial and timescale the program was contract terminated, retended and won by Sikorsky.
Nick Ashwell-Rice has worked in aviation and defence journalism since 2014 whilst also maintaining a career outside of the industry. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Talking Aero since its inception