The selection of Sikorsky as the contractor for the next presidential helicopter was made through a competitive process even though the company was the only one to submit a bid, the Navy said.

Photo: White House
Photo: White House

The Navy on Wednesday announced that Sikorsky has been chosen for the VXX program under a $1.24 billion contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase. Other potential bidders had previously said they were not interested in bidding because they believed the requirements outlined by the Navy were advantageous to Sikorsky.

The Navy maintains that it was still able to hold a competitive award because the companies who declined to bid remained interested up to the August deadline for responding to the request for proposals issued by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

“The program had multiple interested industry participants up through and including proposal submission,” Kelly Burdick, a spokeswoman for NAVAIR, said. 

The environment still produced a competitive price and contract structure that allowed the Navy to acquire “extensive” data rights that will lead to long-term savings over the aircraft’s expected 40-year lifetime, Burdick said.

“In the end, only one bidder actually submitted a proposal, but competitive pressures existed throughout the source selection process,” she said.

The EMD contract calls for the production of six aircraft, with four of them slated to become operational in 2020. Another 17 will be built under full production that will eventually stretch the total value of the VXX program well into the billions of dollars.

Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies [UTX], submitted its VH-92 airframe, based on the S-92. Lockheed Martin [LMT] teamed with Sikorsky as the systems integrator.

Boeing [BA], which was considering whether to bid with its CH-47 Chinook airframe or partner with Bell Helicopter [TXT] to offer the V-22 Osprey, declined to submit a proposal, as did AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica. Both prospective bidders said at the time they believed the requirements favored Sikorsky and it wasn’t worth the investment required to participate.

All of the aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2023.

The Marine Corps for decades has been flying the president on “Marine One” with a fleet of VH-3 Sea Kings and smaller VH-60 Whitehawks–both built by Sikorsky.