The U.S. Navy intends to procure 17 presidential helicopters to replace the service’s fleet of 11 VH-3D and eight of H-60N aircraft, the Naval Air Systems Command reported Monday.
“The proposal that we have is for a total of 17 aircraft to be purchased in three years,” Col. Eric Ropella, Marine Corps program manager for VH-92, said Monday at the 2018 Sea Air Space Exposition in Maryland.
Ropella noted that the service initially operated the first two VH-92 test aircraft in 2017 and plans to carry out government tests once it receives this summer the two helicopters, which are now at Lockheed Martin’s New York-based facility for interior installation and painting work.
The two aircraft are part of a $1.2 billion contract the Navy awarded to Lockheed’s Sikorsky subsidiary in 2014 to build six test aircraft for the military branch.
Sikorsky has begun to configure the other four VH-92 aircraft for mission support through its facility in Stratford, Connecticut, and Ropella said he expects those helicopters to be shipped by the summer of 2019.
The Navy plans to kick off VH-92 cadre training in 2019.
The proposal and the contract for six engineering and manufacturing development aircraft would bring the total number of presidential helicopters to 23.