Schumer Congratulates Lockheed Martin on Presidential Helicopter

Published 05/16 2014 04:48PM

Updated 05/16 2014 05:14PM

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer stopped by Lockheed Martin in Owego this morning to congratulate the company on securing the contract to build the next fleet of presidential helicopters.

Lockheed will work with its partner Sikorsky Aircraft, based in Connecticut, on the $1.2 billion project.

Sikorsky will build the actual aircraft and Lockheed will equip each helicopter with high-tech mission systems. In total, 23 choppers will be built, including two test craft over the next nine years.

Lockheed Martin's General Manager Dan Spoor says the Owego site will make sure the helicopters have the needed communication and protection systems in place.

"Think of the complexity of taking a helicopter and being airborne and being able to connect to anything that the president wants to connect to from a communications standpoint. That's one of the areas that this site is very well known for. The other is I'll say protecting the aircraft," said Spoor.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is enthusiastic about what the work means for the Southern Tier. In addition to Lockheed helping build aircraft that the President of the United States will fly in, the work also means 200 jobs will be sustained at the Owego site.

Schumer says a new fleet of choppers has been needed for years to replace the decades-old one currently being used.

Back in 2005 Lockheed had won a more expensive contract to build presidential helicopters, but it was was eventually cancelled for several reasons, including cost-overrun.

This time around it won't be as expensive to build the fleet, in part because of the type of aircraft being used.

"Sometimes the victories are sweetest when you've had to overcome a lot. I remember that awful day when the president was asked in 2009 does he need a presidential helicopter and he said no and I felt almost a dagger go through my body. But, we knew we had to fight back. We first fought to get some preliminary funding, working here with the workforce at Lockheed Martin, we came back," said Schumer.

The first presidential helicopter is slated to arrive at Lockheed early next year.

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