How to spend $400 million on a helicopter

Some interesting facts from this story about the new presidential helicopter:

  • each of the 28 helicopters will cost $400 million, more than a Boeing 747 tricked out to serve as Air Force One
  • the contract was awarded in 2005 and the first helicopter will be delivered in 2010, despite the fact that these are basically EH101s, a design first flown in 1987 (the Chinese could probably build 10 cities for 5 million people each in the same five year period)

What would be truly incredibly would be a president of the U.S. staying at his or her desk in the White House so that 28 helicopters were not needed…

[Note that this is the same contract that stirred up a lot of shock and horror at Sikorsky when it was awarded. Every preceding Marine One helicopter had been designed and built in the U.S. Note further that the actual mission of Marine One, transporting a few people from the White House to an airport, could be accomplished with a handful of Robinson R44s, the price of which was raised this year to $320,000 (most are sold overseas). The Robinson doesn’t have the same anti-missile defenses as the monstrous EH101, but on the other hand it presents a much smaller RADAR target and also a much smaller heat signature (one piston engine instead of three massive jet engines).]

4 thoughts on “How to spend $400 million on a helicopter

  1. What’s $11 billion when we’ll likely spend $3 trillion on Iraq, a drop in the bucket.

    And why have only 28, we should have a few more. The Under Secretary for Management and Administration shouldn’t have to drive anywhere, she should fly!

  2. It is just inexplicable, agreed to have to service/train/suppourt a small fleet of totally unique types, that after all of the VIP modifications have little in common with their EH101 forebears.

    I’d figure on just rebuilding some CH-46s or CH-47s they could be CSAR-X types, but certainly have the cargo capacity. Really anything that is reliable or made reliable from under-rating, proficient crew and ground service/suppourt would be fine.

  3. “If the federal government were a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company’s management and directors needed a major shake-up.” is what David Walker, comptroller general of the United States and head of the US Government Accountability Office said last December about the 2007 Financial Report of the United States Government.

  4. From the article:
    “You don’t think of it in terms of what’s the cost of the individual helicopter,” he told the Post. “You think of it as, what do we need to do to protect the president?”

    Call me callous, but I’m willing to accept a certain level of risk in my presidential transport. Why shouldn’t he fly the same (3 engine) well-armored CH-53’s that some of our finest (pave low) pilots fly every day? If things go really far south,we’ve got Cheney, after all.

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