Boeing will secure a license to offer a US-built version of the AgustaWestland AW101 in a move that shakes up a repeat competition to replace the presidential helicopter fleet.
The proposed “Boeing 101” helicopter means the manufacturer of the US Air Force's VC-25 – sometimes known as Air Force One – will compete to supply the White House’s rotary-wing transport.
“We believe we are uniquely positioned to make the most of the [US] Navy’s significant investment in this aircraft,” says Phil Dunford, vice president and general manager of Boeing Rotorcraft.
A Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland team previously won the presidential helicopter contract in 2004, but a series of required design changes that drove up costs led to the termination of the contract five years later.
Lockheed has now teamed up with Sikorsky, its former rival, to offer the VH-92 to the navy for the presidential helicopter requirement.
Navy officials have launched the competitive process for the so-called VXX contract by starting an analysis of alternatives. A request for proposals is expected to follow the study phase of the contract.
Boeing’s proposal would transfer all intellectual property, data and production rights for the AW101 from Italy and the UK to the USA, the company says.
The move comes as Boeing’s supporters in Congress have attempted to legally restrict the Department to Defense from buying aircraft that have benefitted from subsidies provided by European governments.
Such subsidies have become a key issue in the debate about the competition for the USAF's KC-X tanker, with the Boeing KC-767 NewGen Tanker competing against a modified Airbus A330-200 offered by EADS North America as the KC-45.