Double Trouble

By Sebastian Sprenger / March 2, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The beginning of the week had some bad news in store for the presidential helicopter program.

First, a story broke over the weekend that an employee of a "Maryland-based" defense company used a peer-to-peer file sharing program to beam potentially sensitive engineering and avionics data of the Sikorsky-made VH-60 helicopter into cyberspace.

By late last month, the files had already spread to a computer in Iran, Keith Tagliaferri of Tiversa, the Pennsylvania-based computer security company that first brought the incident to the attention of the military, told Reuters.

(We report on new plans by DOD to avoid similar cases of data loss in the future in a related story on

In Inside the Navy today, the follow-on Marine One copter program, the VH-71, also makes headlines by virtue of what government and industry sources believe to be its impending demise.

"In the days to come, any information you may receive about budget or program decisions will undoubtedly be wrong because I intend to wait until the end of our review process before making any decisions," Gates said at a Pentagon press briefing last week. "Putting together a budget package this large, complex and interrelated requires a coherent and holistic process -- a process that would be undermined if decisions about particular programs are made piecemeal or before the assessment is complete."

Nonetheless, government and industry sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions, said last week that the VH-71program is likely to meet its end.

Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter Textron cooperate on the VH-71 program.