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VXX Vertical Lift Aircraft

The VXX is a follow-on program for the VH-71. An acquisition strategy for the VXX program is being established. Funding includes pre- MS A risk reduction activities, capability based assessments, Concept of Operations (CONOPS) development, Analysis of Alternatives, specification development, system concept development and threat analysis leading to a FY10 Material Development Decision (MDD). Following a successful MS A decision and entrance into the Technology Development Phase, activities will focus on the proposed material solutions, specifically, reducing technology risk, determining and maturing the appropriate set of technologies and to demonstrate technology on prototypes.

Due to increased cost and schedule growth the Secretary of Defense and USD (AT&L) directed cancellation of the current VH-71 program in the 15 May 2009 ADM from USD (AT&L) cancelling the VH-71 program. The VH-71 contract was terminated on 1 June 2009. The VH-71 program was the replacement helicopter for the VH-3D and VH-60N. In order for the VH-71 to be available to most effectively assume Presidential vertical lift mission by FY10, two Increments were to be developed. Increment 1 was to provide an initial limited capability to fulfill the immediate need Presidential lift requirement. Three (3) test article aircraft, system design and development (SDD) efforts, maintenance trainers, and associated logistics were initiated in 2005 for Increment 1. Included in the SDD contract were five (5) Increment 1 pilot production aircraft to support Initial Operational Capability (IOC). Increment 2 was to be developed to complete all of the Presidential support requirements. Two test articles were to be procured in FY09 to accommodate air vehicle structural differences between Increment 1 and 2 (main gear box, drive train, engines, tail unit and main rotor blades). The second test vehicle was to be procured instead of pursuing the planned modifications to one of the Increment 1 test vehicles due to the extent of the air vehicle structural differences.

1999-2005 - VXX Vertical Lift Aircraft

The current VH-3D fleet, which entered service in the mid-1960's, was experiencing maintenance and performance problems that directly impacted its ability to provide transportation support for the President of the United States and other high ranking government executives. Accordingly, the Department of the Navy accelerated efforts to select a replacement aircraft.

Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) was required to provide safe and timely transportation for the President and Vice President of the United States, heads of state and others as directed by the White House Military Office (WHMO). The global nature of these commitments required HMX-1 aircraft to deploy world-wide and operate in varying environmental and climatic conditions without mission degradation. When the President was aboard Marine One, this aircraft was the Commander-in-Chief's primary command and control platform and had to provide the President with the flexibility and capabilities necessary to execute the duties of the office.

The VH-3D, the previous primary aircraft providing this support to the White House, was approaching the end of its service life. The Navy and Marine Corps had determined the need for a material solution for a Vertical Lift Aircraft (VXX) to Conduct Presidential Support Missions. As part of the acquisition effort the Navy and Marine Corps intended to evaluate conceptual design trade studies to facilitate the process of developing and fielding a suitable system to perform the current and projected missions assigned to Presidential helicopters.

The objective of the VXX program was to replace the VH-3D aircraft with a new vertical-lift aircraft through an evolutionary acquisition program, which provided an Initial Operating Capability (IOC) as soon as 2008. Full Operational Capability (FOC) was desired no later than 2012/2014.

The VXX Mission Needs Statement was approved in September 1999 and an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) was then underway. The Navy and Marine Corps were preparing for a Milestone decision in summer 2004 and required industry involvement to assist in the validation of program cost, schedule and performance expectations. Industry was also encouraged to provide innovative concepts, including incremental upgrades, which would enable the Government to meet the acquisition schedule.

Consistent with the mission needs timeline and affordability constraints, current expectations are that the VXX would be a derivative of an existing air platform. However the Government remained open to any air system that met the VXX requirements. The Government did not intend to direct the use of any Government Furnished Equipment (GFE), enabling potential vendors maximum flexibility in meeting VXX requirements. For planning purposes, although there was no commitment by the Government to proceed with any further contractual efforts, contractors were instructed to plan for funding levels commensurate with an Acquisition Category (ACAT) I program. Exact dollar amounts were not provided to allow the offeror some flexibility when bounding performance and schedule expectations for the purposes of this effort.

In order for the VXX to be available to assume the Presidential vertical lift mission by 2008, three test article aircraft, five pilot production aircraft, system design and development efforts, maintenance trainers, and associated logistics were to be initiated by 2004. In March 2004 the Navy decided to delay plans to pick a winner in the spring of 2004.

The total acquisition cost of about 23 new airframes was $5.9 billion. Originally planned for an initial operating capability in 2013, the acquisition schedule was accelerated to December 2008. The FY05 budget included $777 million in Research and Development for VXX system design and demonstration, and $106 million in appropriations ($166 million authorizations) for military construction to support VXX. Facilities were required to support the test and evaluation of three VXX scheduled for delivery in October 2006, to provide hangar space for the eventual full complement of 23 aircraft, and to provide in-service support for the life cycle of the aircraft.

The accelerated VXX acquisition schedule required the Navy to make some judgments in the FY05 military construction program to ensure that facilities would be available in time to house the aircraft and the combined government/contractor support team. There was insufficient excess hangar capacity to house VXX at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, where the Navy conducted most of its test and evaluation of new aircraft. Similarly, the 1935 era hangers at Quantico were inadequate to meet current HMX-1 needs.

However, before committing large sums to construct new facilities, the Navy studied whether there was excess capacity elsewhere in the National Capital Region that could be adapted to accommodate both the test and evaluation phase and the operational mission for VXX at lower cost than building new facilities at Patuxent and Quantico. In addition, the VXX program manager had a business case analysis underway to determine whether a government owned, contractor operated facility at Patuxent was the most cost effective solution for in-service support. As another variable, the Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) and initial production solicitation released in December 2003 gave the vendor the option to use its own facilities.

Research and development costs for the program, which included the procurement of three test aircraft, five pilot production aircraft, which formed the increment-one initial capability to be delivered in 2009, and also three of the increment-two aircraft as a low-rate procurement purchase were expected to amount to $3.5 billion. This would be followed by procurement of the remaining increment-two aircraft, 15 helicopters, for $2.5 billion, for a total program cost to the government of $6.1 billion.

The original Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program of record proposed an initial operating capability in 2013. The VXX program was accelerated in 2003 with a planned IOC in FY09.

In the competition was Sikorsky and a team led by Lockheed Martin and a British-Italian company, AgustaWestland, for a $7 billion contract to provide 23-25 helicopters for the presidential fleet. A 1 May 2004 decision was initially expected on whether Sikorsky's VH-92, or Lockheed Martin's US101 would replace the Marine Corps' fleet of presidential helicopters, a contract Sikorsky had held since 1957. The US101 provided Agusta-Westland with the opportunity for a long sought-after breakthrough into the US military market, while Sikorsky was equally determined to win the competition to replace Sikorsky VH-3Ds and possibly VH-60s.

The Department of Defense announced on January 28, 2005 that the team led by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, NY, had been selected to build the new presidential helicopter (VXX) based on its U.S. 101 medium lift helicopter. This $1.7 billion, cost plus award fee contract was expected to launch the VXX program's system development and demonstration phase during which the program would integrate a "system of systems" with a modern, in-production aircraft to provide the president with safe and reliable helicopter transportation.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:39:17 ZULU