While Lockheed Martin's VH-71, the new Presidential chopper, is the latest greatest thing floating on five blades, Obama couldn't be less enthusiastic, according to a recent Q&A:
The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me. (Laughter.) Of course, I've never had a helicopter before — (laughter) — maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it. (Laughter.) But I think it is a — it is a — an example of the procurement process gone amuck. And we're going to have to fix it.
Of course, since the Pentagon already made the arrangements,
Obama will still be riding in a helicopter that costs as much as Air Force One. [Actually, the 1.5+ billion is for 28 helicopters not only one, and according to Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon and the Secret Service, he needs them all: "They are stationed all around the country/world, just like a multiple-personality Air Force One aircraft." Also, the helicopter is American. The airframe is being built now by Agusta Westland Bell in the UK now, after being tested by Lockheed on the Merlin program. After the first few are built in Europe, the rest will be built by Bell in the USA, with Lockheed Martin adding the electronics in Owego, NY.-JD]