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US Navy releases draft RFP for Presidential helicopter

The US Navy (USN) has released a new draft request for proposal (RFP) for the VXX Presidential helicopter replacement programme. A formal RFP should be released by the middle of the current fiscal year.

"Industry input is being sought prior to the release of the formal RFP, which is anticipated in the mid FY 2013 timeframe," the document reads.



The USN wants potential contractors to propose "existing, in-production" helicopters for the eventual tender. While some modifications are inevitable, the service wants to make sure that whatever changes needed are minimal. Major adaptions to critical components such as the drivetrain, rotors, engines and airframe are "highly discouraged", it says. The USN hopes to leverage an existing civil or military airworthiness certificate to issue a Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) flight clearance.

"It is the Government's desire to hold development to an absolute minimum on the VXX programme and focus the programme effort on integration of mature subsystems on a mature platform," the draft RFP reads. "The offerors will be encouraged to not propose any design elements that contain immature technology or that might be deemed Critical Technology Elements."

NAVAIR's PMA-274 office, which is responsible for the VXX programme, is teaming with the Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft Division (NAWC-AD) to develop the future Presidential helicopter's communications suite using existing off-the-shelf components. The communication suite will include existing analog radio terminals and encryption equipment, but it will also include digital internet-protocol based radios according to the draft RFP.

"The prime contractor will have primary responsibility for the executive cabin interior; the overall performance of the VXX integrated air vehicle and the installed performance of all subsystems on the platform, to include the Government-defined subsystems," the document reads.

The VXX will replace the current fleet of Sikorsky VH-3D and VH-60N Presidential transport helicopters. Boeing, Bell, AgustaWestland, and Sikorsky - along with partner Lockheed Martin - are likely to complete in the new tender.

"Together with our teammate Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky will offer a version of our proven S-92 helicopter to deliver safe, secure and reliable transportation for the Office of the President," Sikorsky says. "The S-92 helicopter is one of the few helicopters in the world designed to meet the [Federal Aviation Administration's] rigorous [FAR29] safety standards."

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