Lockheed Martin awarded $1.24B to build presidential helicopters

By Anna Norris
By Perry Russom

May 7, 2014 Updated May 16, 2014 at 4:48 PM EST

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Lockheed Martin has been named as a contractor on a Navy contract worth $1.24 billion to build a new fleet of helicopters used to transport the president.

Lockheed Martin and its partner, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., will construct a fleet of 23 presidential helicopters, known as “Marine One.”

U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the announcement late Wednesday afternoon.

“Lockheed Martin is truly a flagship New York company that is an anchor for jobs and economic development in the entire Southern Tier," said Schumer. "Bringing new federal contracts to New York has been, and will continue to be, one of my highest priorities because they create good-paying, high skilled jobs.”

Lockheed Martin partnered with Sikorsky to bid on the presidential helicopter replacement program.

Gillibrand said the Navy contract is expected to create or sustain up to 200 jobs at the plant in Owego.

“This long-awaited Marine One contract will support hundreds of good-paying manufacturing jobs for New Yorkers,” Gillibrand said. “Upstate New York’s proud manufacturing tradition put us on the map and helped give flight to the Marine One helicopters. And by securing strong investments like this, we can continue to attract new businesses and new jobs that can support a family, and strengthen our economy. This is how we can see more ‘Made in America’ manufacturing again.”

The current fleet of presidential helicopters is comprised of Sikorsky Black Hawk/Sea King models that are 35 and 40 years old and are in desperate need of replacing.

"If we can turn that around with some new employment and have some homes be purchased...who could be against that?" said Ralph Kelsey, chairman of the Tioga County Industrial Development Committee.

Of the 23 new presidential helicopters outlined in the contract, 21 will be for use and two for testing.

"It’s really great for our community," said Tioga County Legislator Ray Case. "It’s jobs and it supports our industry. It’s been a long haul for them. "

Wednesday night, the IDA approved a $1 million tax exemption on a nearly $20 million project to build a new manufacturing plant on the campus.