More Money

By Christopher J. Castelli / December 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, says he has secured more than $100 million in the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations bill for the continuation of the mission systems work on Lockheed Martin's VH-71 presidential helicopter program. The funds are part of the conference agreement for the bill, he said in a Dec. 11 statement.

Earlier this year, Hinchey secured $485.2 million in the House's version of the bill, but Senate appropriators did not recommend any funds for the VH-71 program, which the Pentagon terminated this year. During the conference process, senators strongly resisted the House position, according to Hinchey.

"Although I was not able to achieve my complete objective, which was to fully continue all aspects of Lockheed Martin's Increment 1 presidential helicopter, this funding will save about 250 jobs in Owego that would have been lost without it," Hinchey said in a statement. "The funding included in the conference agreement will help ensure that $1 billion already spent to develop the necessary mission systems technology for the next presidential helicopter does not go to waste. The agreement ensures that the VH-71 remains a viable contender to replace the current fleet as the administration considers new options. I will continue to do all that I can to support this program this year and in next year's appropriations process."

The Defense Department expects to restart the acquisition process for the new presidential helicopter program next spring, stressing realistic requirements and improved affordability, Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter said last month.