When the original presidential helicopter program was cancelled a couple of years ago due to a ballooning costs, the program left nine completed and nearly completed Lockheed Martin-Augusta Westland-built VH-71 presidential choppers-in-waiting sitting in a government hangar.
Well, after spending billions to develop the birds, doesn't it make sense to do something with them? Now, sister site DoDBuzz is reporting that an unnamed agency may just put the choppers to use:
Given the fabulous capabilities required of the VH-71 helicopters — executive protection plus, hardened and encrypted communications gear, all sorts of neat active protective systems — it seemed a bit sad that they would just sit under wraps as a symbol of all that’s bad about Pentagon acquisition. They did, after all, cost $3.2 billion. (We checked around and it’s not clear exactly how many of the VH-71s are completely equipped and ready to fly but it looks like there are at least six.)Seriously, do something with these birds. Use them as the new VXX, give them to the CIA, FBI, NSA, SOCOM or whoever. Just don't let them rot and don't sell them to Canada for pennies on the dollar (I've heard rumors this was going to happen).
Now we hear that one of those agencies that can really use encrypted comms and birds that can do all sorts of nifty things wants to unwrap them and fly them. One of the possible advantages of using these birds is that — if they are flown without US military markings — the modified AugustWestland AW101s can be mistaken for helicopters belonging to a number of nations. Also, these helicopters are used for both civil and military applications.
What do you DT readers think we should do with them?