Program Status: Mission systems evaluation
The Navy is working with Sikorsky on a new fleet of VH-92A helicopters to support the Presidential world-wide vertical-lift mission. To help ensure an affordable program, they’re integrating the already-FAA certified S-92 aircraft with a mature mission communications system and an executive interior. Once it enters service in 2020, the VH-92A will continue to ensure safe and reliable helicopter transportation.
EDM-0 (Engineering Development Model), the first baseline helicopter built for the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program, began preliminary mission systems evaluation in December 2014. EDM-0 conducted its first flight after modification on May 15, 2015 in Owego, New York. The aircraft will continue both ground and flight integration tests on the mission communication system through August.
The U.S. Marine Corps provides the President of the United States with reliable global vertical lift air transportation with high levels of security and communication capability.
The Marine Corps currently operates eleven VH-3D and eight VH-60N helicopters. Both models are military-certified aircraft modified to perform the specific mission. The VH-3Ds were originally placed in service in 1974 and the VH-60s entered service in the 1980s. Both aircraft are well past their original twenty-year service life expectations. Safe operations have been sustained with a comprehensive overhaul cycle at relatively short, three-year intervals.
A previous effort to replace these aircraft, the VH-71 program, was initiated in 2003. This program was terminated in 2009 due to extensive cost and schedule growth.
The Navy conducted analyses of alternatives (AoAs) from 2009-2012. The final AoA was deemed sufficient to inform future acquisition decisions by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation in May 2012.
Following extensive market research, a draft VXX Request for Proposal (RFP) was released Nov. 23, 2012 to provide industry an advance opportunity to review program strategy and requirements, as well as provide an opportunity to give feedback on requirements clarity and potential drivers of cost and schedule to help the government further refine the final RFP prior to release. The final RFP was released on May 2, 2013, in support of a full and open competition. The Navy used this process to select a prime contractor that could best integrate mature, government-defined mission systems into an in-production air vehicle, and accomplish the efforts in an affordable and timely manner.
The Navy awarded a $1,244,677,064 fixed-price incentive engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract, with production options, on May 7, 2014 to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for 21 operational and two test aircraft. Initial fielding is planned for 2020, with production concluding in 2023. Under the contract, Sikorsky will use its in-production S-92A aircraft and integrate government-defined mission systems and install an executive interior.
Developing new technology is not part of the acquisition strategy – instead, a low-risk technical approach will help reduce procurement costs and establish long-term affordability for the VH-92A program:
- Government-defined mission systems will be integrated into an existing air vehicle (using mature technology vs. developing new)
- Existing airworthiness certification will be maintained (allows focus on integration)
- Existing in-service support infrastructure will be retained and utilized for VH-92A (i.e., software, avionics)
Overall, the Department of the Navy’s VH-92A acquisition strategy emphasizes affordability, cost control and risk reduction, in balance with system performance.
The U.S. Air Force approved the VH-92A designation on Oct. 3, 2014.
Updated June 2015