The current helicopters date to the Eisenhower administration, so its about time.
America’s next presidential Marine One chopper took to the air for the first time last week, marking a step forward in the $1.24 billion program to finally replace the ancient fleet of helicopters that currently ferry the president.
The Sikorsky VH-92A is scheduled to start its duties in 2020, following a 250-hour flight test program.
The VH-92A will be the Sea Corps version of Sikorsky’s S-92A helicopter. Already in service with a million hours total flying time. This first VH-92A prototype later this year will partner by a second one, before the four production helicopters are for the Marine Corps.
The Sea version of the helicopter includes modifications such as armor against gunfire and anti-missile systems to protect against surface-to-air missile attacks.
“This first flight of the VH-92A configured test aircraft is an important milestone for the program,” said Spencer Elani.
“Having independently tested the aircraft’s components and subsystems, we are now moving forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program.”
It will feature a specially developed military communications system. Allowing simultaneous short- and long-range secure and non-secure voice and data marketing communications.
It can also exchange situational awareness information with outside agencies, organizations, and supporting aircraft.
‘This first flight of the VH-92A Marine One test aircraft is an important milestone for this program,’ said Spencer Elani, director VH-92A program at Sikorsky.
‘Having independently check the aircraft’s components and subsystems. We are actually continue to start full aircraft system certification via the airline flight test program.’
As the flight test program proceeds, this test aircraft (Engineering Development Model 1, or EDM-1) will have another. Plus by an additional test aircraft (EDM-2) over the course of the 12-month flight test program.
EDM-2 is on track for its first trip later this season.
The contract will produce a total of six Marine One aircraft: two test aircraft and four production aircraft.
Surely presidents from 2020 onward will be enjoy to have a modern chopper. The new Marine One will be at their disposal rather than today’s overdue-for-replacement model.