Sikorsky’s VH-92A Patriot helicopter is set to take over the Marine One mission completely by 2024.
Designed as a successor to the existing VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N White Hawk helicopters, the VH-92A aims to assume the mission of providing helicopter transportation for the President of the United States.
The White House has expressed its intention to procure a fleet of 21 VH-92A helicopters, including two for testing purposes, representing a notable enhancement in presidential transport security.
During a Connecticut business forum, Paul Lemmo, President of Sikorsky, revealed that the VH-92A helicopters are already operational for certain presidential missions.
“Right now, there’s a mix of the new aircraft and the old aircraft, and over the next year or so we expect the VH-92 to take over completely,” Lemmo stated, as reported by CT Insider.
After the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel was terminated in 2009 due to delays, the Navy relaunched the VXX program in search of a viable substitute for the aging VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters.
Following a comprehensive evaluation, Sikorsky’s VH-92A emerged as the chosen contender for the Marine One mission in 2014. A year later, Lockheed Martin acquired Sikorsky from United Technologies Company.
In 2019, the construction of the new Marine One helicopters began. In a 2020 report, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the VH-92A program was “generally on target with cost and schedule,” despite “some communications software issues still need[ing] to be resolved.” By November 2021, the initial two prototypes had been delivered.
Sikorsky expects to complete the 23rd and final helicopter in the summer of 2024. The fleet is to be flown by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1).
Based at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico in Virginia, HMX-1 serves as the dedicated United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron, entrusted with the responsibility of providing transportation for the President and Vice President of the United States, among other VIPs.