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Biden’s first flight on the $217 million presidential helicopter was pushed back after the Pentagon deemed it unreliable in an emergency: report

The helicopter, part of a 23-aircraft program costing $5 billion, was supposed to be declared ready for operations in July, per Bloomberg. ...

New VH-92
Future Marine One helicopter.

  • President Biden's first flight on the new presidential helicopter has been delayed, Bloomberg reported.
  • The Pentagon said in a report that the chopper wasn't reliable in emergency missions, per Bloomberg.
  • The helicopter is part of a 23-aircraft program costing $5 billion, set to replace the current fleet.

The Pentagon has delayed President Joe Biden's first flight on the new $217 million presidential helicopter after it deemed the chopper unreliable in an emergency, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The Biden administration hasn't made a decision on whether the helicopter can carry out missions because it's still evaluating the aircraft's safety, a US official, who requested anonymity, told Bloomberg.

The military is replacing the current fleet of 11 Sikorsky VH-3D and eight VH-60N helicopters with 23 VH-92 choppers built by Lockheed Martin, costing $5 billion, Insider previously reported.

The presidential helicopter is "failing to meet the reliability, availability or maintainability threshold requirements" which are necessary, per a recent internal report by the Pentagon testing office for top defense officials, seen by Bloomberg.

The report said the helicopter is "operationally effective" for regular "administrative" flights, such as taking Biden to his country residence, Camp David, per Bloomberg.

However, the aircraft failed to be effective "for the contingency operation mission," in other words, emergency missions, the report said, cited by Bloomberg.

The Pentagon testing office said in the report that the helicopter's communication system tended to delay important correspondence at the start of emergency missions, and didn't "adequately support timely, continuous and secure communications," per Bloomberg.

The presidential helicopter was supposed to be declared ready for operations in July, Bloomberg reported. This date was pushed back from January, already a delay from June 2020, per the publication.

The military still hasn't assigned any missions involving the helicopter, Bloomberg said.

Major Jorge Hernandez, a spokesman for the Marine aviation deputy commandant, was cited by Bloomberg as saying that the VH-92 program office "cannot speculate as to when" the White House will give approval to start missions. 

The White House didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

In March, the military and Lockheed Martin were still trying to resolve the issue of the new helicopter sometimes scorching the lawn when it lands, Bloomberg News reported.

John Dorrian, a spokesman for Lockheed's Sikorsky aircraft division, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, "Sikorsky continues to work closely with our customer to ensure the aircraft meets all operational requirements."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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