Shopping list: four helicopters, but don’t spend more than $1.24 billion

During the reign of King Bush II, I wrote about the proposed $400 million new presidential helicopter (March 2008 posting), a pimped-out variant of the standard EH101 that Wikipedia says costs $21 million when customers buy it from Eurocopter/Airbus instead of from Lockheed Martin. It seems that under Barack Obama, the government and its contractors have become more efficient. The new Marine One helicopter will be a tweaked Sikorsky S-92, which have a list price of around $30 million each when they are bought by companies that need to fly out to oil rigs. This press release says that the federal government will get four pimped-out S-92s for only about $300 million each, with options to buy 17 more at an undisclosed (undetermined?) price. The Wikipedia page on the VXX program says that about $1.7 billion was spent on the old plan before it was scrapped and that the projected costs of the old program doubled before it was canceled.

Related: my 2009 offer to pay personally for all presidential helicopter transport, saving the taxpayers about $1 billion per year.


  1. Tom

    May 9, 2014 @ 9:13 am


    The total cost of the program is about $3 billion for 21 helicopters so the next 15 helicopters are a bargain at only $117 million each. One problem with using the R44 is that it uses avgas which is not available everywhere in the world. Of course you could use the R66 and continue to fuel them with the eco friendly $150/gal stuff.

  2. philg

    May 9, 2014 @ 9:16 am


    Tom: is there actually any way to know what the helicopters to be delivered 10 years from now will cost? It sounded to me as though it was fixed price only for development and the first four.

  3. Joe McGuckin

    May 9, 2014 @ 3:03 pm


    300 Million per helicopter? Stunningly awful even by beltway procurement standards.

    Why don’t we just own up to the fact that the commonly parroted belief that the President “is the most important man in America” is not true and that if the President were to be incapacitated or killed, there is a well thought out succession plan in place with no less than 17 people in the direct line of succession and 535 others willing to stab each other in the back to get a shot at the job.

  4. dg

    May 9, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  5. Tom

    May 10, 2014 @ 9:43 am


    There seems to be some confusion as to what the contract actually says. Here is a link to the actual contract documentation.

    From the document:
    “The procurement will result in a fixed-price type contract for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase as well as options for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), Full Rate Production (FRP) and associated logistics elements to include interim contractor support, spares, support equipment, and repair of repairables. Options are also anticipated for the modification of System Demonstration Test Articles, integration of the Wideband Line of Sight System, Mission Tasking-2 Reconfiguration Kits and Earned Value Management Cost Reporting. The total aircraft quantity includes 6 aircraft to support the EMD phase, 9 LRIP aircraft, and 8 FRP aircraft. If all options are exercised, the total period of performance will be approximately 8 years.”

    The award was for $1,244,677,064.00.

    It is expected that from the original 6 helicopters, 4 will actually be used in service.

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