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10 Sep 04. Colonel Peter Flach and Steve White of the DESO sales team told BATTLESPACE that the UK government is fully behind the Lockheed Martin-AgustaWestland team bidding tom supply the US101 (a derivative of the EH101) to replace the existing Presidential Sea King helicopters operated by the US Marine Corps, worth $1.6bn with an $800m follow on CSAR requirement. The VHX contract calls for the replacement of 19 HMX Sikorsky Sea King helicopters — some dating from 1974 — with 23 new ones by 2008. A decision is expected in December. The bid will be covered in an interview to be conducted by BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold with Lord Bach, UK Minister for Defence Procurement.

“Team 101 comprises probably the most comprehensive offering for any helicopter contract anywhere in the world,” Flach said, “Lockheed Martin is the leading contractor in the USA for the integration of high-technology defence systems into helicopters, working with Sikorsky and Bell in many projects for all three services. In addition Lockheed Martin UK is the lead systems integrator and Prime for the EH101 Merlin in the UK which gives the UK a huge lead in helicopter technology and technology transfer. Korea is also looking at a Presidential VIP helicopter where the two teams are also head-to-head.

Matt Killian told the Editor that, ”In my view the US101 contract is a vital win for the UK technology base and the UK-US two way street, the biggest opportunity on offer for years to come. US101 offers the US access to the advanced technology offered by AgustaWestland offered in the EH101 which has already been tried and tested by the Air Forces, Navies and Armies of the UK and Italy and the SAR fleet requirements for Canada, Denmark and Portugal.

Its rival, the Sikorsky VH-92 is a militarized version of the civil S-92 helicopter which is currently on a world-wide sales trip following its success in Canada which is subject to an objection by AgustaWestland.

“The technology offered by AgustaWestland coupled with the expertise of Bell and Lockheed Martin makes US101 a winning offer,” Flach continued,”65% of the aircraft will be built in the US thus it cannot be called a European offering, with 35% of European advanced gearbox technology being brought in for the first tranche. Winning US101 will strengthen Bell’s helicopter business currently weakened by the current delays in V-22 which has sucked in huge resources and R&D with other areas of US helicopter technology suffering.”

The helicopter will also be offered for the 132 machine US CSAR requirement being competed by Sikorsky and a Northrop/EADS Team. It is likely that the V-22 will be offered as a mixed fleet. The US101 is 30% bigger than the VH-92 offering the President increased space for equipment and passengers with an access ramp rather than a door as in VH-92.

The US101 will create a new facility in Owego, Hilary Clinton’s constituency and bolster Bell’s and Agusta’s Philadelphia facility where the 109 is made.

Sikorsky claim the Superhawk has cutting-edge avionics include eye-level glass displays that allow pilots to keep their eyes on the horizon while tracking flight and navigational data.

For security reasons, the demonstration model lacks some items featured in the real thing. But executives said the demo provides a glimpse of the latest technology available to the leader of the free world. The Pentagon is also considering a rival aircraft, Lockheed Martin Corp.’s US101, for the contract

Both sides claim they have the best craft for ferrying the president and teams of advisers in the post-Sept. 11 era of heightened security. Steve Ramsey, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s US101 project, said the US101 is just as fast as the VH-92, but is bigger, wider and has more cabin space.

But Sikorsky, which has supplied U.S. presidents with helicopters since 1957,

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