Obama administration to spend $20 billion to replace White House private fleet of 23 helicopters

Loading Marine One Photo Credit: theaviationist.com
Loading Marine One
Photo Credit: theaviationist.com

The Obama administration, always tight-fisted guardians of the public piggy bank, awarded a contract worth $20 billion to one company last Wednesday, for a fleet of presidential helicopters that won’t be ready until 2022.

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation of Connecticut was the only bidder for a Defense Department request to replace the aging fleet of Marine One helicopters, that ferry the president short distances, the Daily Mail reported. In the past few years, more than $3 billion was spent with two other manufacturers trying to meet the contract’s requirements, but as  costs and demands spiraled out of control, the programs were shelved.

The contract calls for a fleet of 23 choppers, costing around $400 million each, and equipped with ultra-sophisticated communications systems, anti-missile defenses, anti-electro-magnetic pulse and anti-nuclear energy wave devices, and a toilet. They must be small enough to land on the White House South Lawn, but large enough to lift fourteen people and all the on-board equipment and gadgetry. In other words, the same cost as Air Force One, an upgraded Jumbo Boeing 747.

Why 23 helicopters for one person? Because in an age of bloat, two to five fly as decoys, several are flown on cargo planes to the president’s future landing destination, and other pods are concealed sporadically along the way, according to the Daily Beast.

Pres. Eisenhower's chopper, courtesy The White House
Pres. Eisenhower’s chopper, courtesy The White House

When the discussion for replacing the fleet originally came up in 2009, Obama said the current fleet seemed fine to him. “Of course,” he said, “I’ve never had a helicopter before. Maybe I’ve been deprived and I don’t know it.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at the time ridiculed the exorbitant cost, and Obama asked then-Sec. of Defense Robert Gates to conduct a review. Five years and $3.2 billion later, the boondoggle has morphed into the latest example of government gone wild.

Smirked one retired Pentagon official, that for the price the Navy is paying, “Marine One should be able to have a solid gold toilet for the president – except that it would add too much weight,” the Daily Mail reported.

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Richard Berkow GET AUTHOR RSS FEED

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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