Vying for VXX

By Christopher J. Castelli / June 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Boeing is still advocating the CH-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey for the VXX presidential helicopter mission despite launching a new relationship with AgustaWestland for U.S. production of the AW-101 medium-lift helicopter, Phil Dunford, vice president and general manager for Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, said today.

Dunford declined to say whether Boeing will ultimately offer a mix of at least two of those platforms for its VXX bid. Boeing will craft its offer based on what the Navy's analyses of alternatives says about factors such as the performance, "productivity" and the cost of VXX aircraft, he added. Those findings might become apparent in August, he said. Boeing will face competition from a Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin team that plans to offer Sikorsky’s H-92 helicopter. The new Boeing-AgustaWestland relationship for the AW-10 is solely for the VXX program, Dunford said.

According to a Boeing statement, the deal "will give Boeing full intellectual property, data and production rights for the aircraft in support of the VXX program. Because of this arrangement, the aircraft will be a Boeing aircraft, built by Boeing personnel at one of its U.S. facilities. The company will submit information regarding this aircraft in response to the Navy's current Request for Information by the June 18 deadline."

Meanwhile, EADS North America is seizing on the AW-101 deal to criticize its rival Boeing's rhetoric in the Air Force KC-X tanker competition. The AW-101 (also known as the EH-101 and US-101) is based on a foreign design, just like EADS' tanker bid.

“We’re pleased that Boeing has openly acknowledged the contribution that international teams, products and platforms make to U.S. national security,” EADS said in a statement. “For several years, Boeing and its allies have been harshly critical of the participation of EADS North America in the KC-X tanker competition. With this announcement, we now expect Boeing to cease its shrill rhetoric and finally allow the KC-X competition to focus on the merits of the tanker offerings.”