President signs Defense Bill; VH-71 gets funds
The VH-71 presidential helicopter program, which was terminated in May by the Secretary of Defense, received life support on December 19 when the President signed the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill. Earlier last year, Obama had threatened to veto the bill if it contained funding for the program. The $130 million in the bill is for “technology capture” ($100 million) of some $3.3 billion already spent on the VH-71 and for initial studies ($30 million) of the next “Marine One” replacement. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), a leading proponent of the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland helicopter based on the three-engine AW101, said the funds would give the VH-71 an advantage in the next presidential helicopter competition,
as well as help preserve jobs at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego, N.Y. (see page 41).