- According to an internal summary prepared by the Pentagon testing office the US presidential helicopter is “failing to meet the reliability, availability, or maintainability threshold requirements.”
The first flight of US President Joe Biden on the new presidential helicopter built by Lockheed Martin Corp has been delayed after a report by the Pentagon’s testing unit warned that it is not yet “operationally suitable” or sufficiently reliable particularly in an emergency.
According to a US official who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, the Biden administration has not yet determined whether the helicopter can be put into service because it is still assessing its safety. The White House Military Office will define the timeline.
The VH-92 helicopter details is a $5 billion, 23-aircraft program to replace the President’s and other top officials’ current aging fleet. According to the previously unpublished testing report, dated September 28, the aircraft is “operationally effective” for routine “administrative” missions. Such as flying the President to Camp David or delivering him to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington for a preplanned trip on Air Force One.
However, it was ineffective “for the contingency operation mission,” which refers to emergency flights. The testing office discovered that the “Mission Communication System (MCS) frequently delayed critical communications at the start of contingency missions and did not adequately support timely, continuous, and secure communications.”
The Naval Air Systems Command program office marked the 28-page testing report “Controlled Unclassified Information,” a new label increasingly used by the military services to limit the public dissemination of program cost and performance data.
“The VH-92 report was considered CUI to protect critical technical information also operational security,” said Navy spokesman Captain Clay Doss in a statement. He stated that “an unclassified/releasable synopsis will be included in” the Pentagon test office. This report is usually released in January.
“The report did not increase any issues” that the program office or the Marine Corps “was unaware of, or the issues had previously been corrected,” said Major Jorge Hernandez, spokesman for the Marine aviation deputy commandant. According to him, the office “cannot speculate as to when” the White House will permit to begin missions.
In February, a spokesman for Lockheed’s Sikorsky aircraft division, John Dorrian, said, “we are pleased our customer awarded us a contract for the final five production helicopters.” “Sikorsky continues to collaborate closely with our customer to ensure the aircraft meets all operational requirements,” he said.
Source: NDTV News
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