Celebrating landing Presidential Helicopter contract

By Jillian Marshall

May 16, 2014 Updated May 16, 2014 at 6:40 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A contract worth more than a billion dollars was celebrated on Friday in Owego for Lockheed Martin. Working with Sikorsky, Lockheed will help build up to 20 new presidential helicopters.

"We're here today to celebrate the award of the $1.2 billion Marine One contract to the great Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky team. Today is a great day for the Southern Tier," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D).

The US Navy awarded a $1.24 billion starting contract to Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed Martin Owego last week. The initial contract calls plan calls for ordering 21 helicopters to transport the president and two test helicopters. They will all be known as Marine One.

The helicopters will be manufactured in four different phases. Sikorsky will assemble the air frames Coatesville, Pa. Then Sikorsky will perform aircraft modifications to meet the requirements of the presidential mission at their headquarters in Stratford, Ct.

Next, the aircraft will be shipped to Owego where Lockheed will install the integrated communications and mission systems.

"What Owego will do is put all of the electronics on it and make it into an office in the sky, protect the aircraft while it's flying the president," said general manager of Lockheed Martin Owego, Dan Spoor.

In the last phase, the aircraft will return to Stratford where Sikorsky will install the presidential interior and then deliver the completed aircraft to the U.S. Navy.

The current Presidential Helicopter fleet is 45 years old.

"They really need these with the technology that's out there today and be equipped right here in Owego, NY. It's a wonderful day," said Congressman Richard Hanna (R).

Lockheed was awarded a similar presidential helicopter contract before, but in 2009 the US Navy canceled the project.

Sen. Thomas Libous (D) helped in getting the state to award a grant to the corporation to build a hangar for the then contracted helicopters. With this new contract, the hangar will be able to be used for what it was intended.

"Now the money that was invested by the state of New York is going to be put to good work," Sen. Libous said.

Lockheed Martin said the first helicopter will hit the skies in 2019, and the company is hoping to begin planning and testing for the fleet in the beginning of next year.

Also on Friday, Sen. Schumer said the Lockheed-Sikorsky team is anticipating a contract from the Air Force for more than 100 combat rescue helicopters. He said to expect an award announcement in June.

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