The first production model VH-71 'PP-1'
(G-17-101) makes its maiden flight from
AgustaWestland in Yeovil, England. 9/22/08
9/22/2008 - Yeovil, UK -- The VH-71 presidential
helicopter program achieved another major milestone
today when the first operational pilot production
helicopter (PP-1) completed its maiden flight at
AgustaWestland's facility in Yeovil, England.
"We're seeing real progress and execution on this
program," said U.S. Navy VH-71 program manager Capt.
Donald Gaddis. "With agreement on the way forward and
a more realistic schedule, we can build on the
momentum we have generated as we deliver the increment
one helicopters to the Marine Corps and White House
and move into the increment two phase."
A U.S. Air Force crew will transport the helicopter
aboard a C-17 cargo aircraft to U.S. Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, MD, in early October.
"The maiden flight of PP-1 is a tremendous
accomplishment for the VH-71 program -- as expected it
performed exceptionally during its 40-minute flight,"
said Stephen C. Moss, CEO of AgustaWestland North
America. "It is a great honor to design and build the
next presidential helicopter and I look forward to
adding it to the U.S. Department of Defense
"Every aircraft that flies brings us a step closer to
fielding helicopters that will serve the office of the
president," said Jeff Bantle, Lockheed Martin vice
president and general manager of the VH-71 program.
"We've got systems integration laboratories online,
helicopters in flight test and more in production for
final command and control systems integration. It's
crucial now for us to leverage what we've accomplished
in the last few years and charge ahead to complete
this phase and continue into the next phase."
PP-1 is the first of five VH-71 production aircraft
that will complete the initial phase, or increment
one, of the presidential helicopter replacement
program, designed to meet an urgent need for new
Increment two will provide 23 operational helicopters
with increased range and upgraded navigation and
communications systems that fulfill White House
requirements to maintain continuity of government and
allow the president to carry out the duties of the
office. Some of the current presidential helicopters
have been flying since the 1970s, and are scheduled to
begin phasing out of operational service at a rate of
three per year beginning in 2017.
Source: Lockheed Press Release