New Presidential Helicopters

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AgustaWestland is responsible for the basic airframe design, production and vehicle support and Lockheed Martin is handling systems integration for the VH-71 presidential helicopter replacement program that has now produced its second production aircraft. The first VH-71 began testing Nov. 24 and the new aircraft, which Nov. 29 flew for the first time, is due to arrive at Patuxent River later this month. The first phase of the program involves production of five production helicopters and four others to be used for testing.

The new helicopters are scheduled to begin replacing the current fleet beginning in 2017. Two of four test aircraft will see flight testing with a joint test team made up of pilots from the Navy, Marines and industry. Two others are currently being fitted with mission systems at Lockheed Martin's Oswego, N.Y., facility. The first production helicopter is currently undergoing ground vibration testing.