Program Status: Contract Awarded
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. 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. A total of six test aircraft will be produced during EMD. The production options will produce an additional 17 aircraft in three lots, resulting in a total procurement of 23 aircraft. Four of the six test articles produced during EMD will become operational aircraft, bringing the operational inventory to 21.
The U.S. Marine Corps provides the President of the United States with safe and reliable 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.
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 VXX 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 VXX (i.e., software, avionics)
Overall, the Department of the Navy’s VXX acquisition strategy emphasizes affordability, cost control and risk reduction, in balance with system performance.
Updated May 2014