The US President’s next official rotorcraft ride has made its maiden flight as a 250-hour flight test program for the Sikorsky VH-92A helicopter begins. According to Sikorsky parent company Lockheed Martin, the future Marine One took to the skies at Lockheed’s Owego, New York facilities on July 28, followed by a second flight the same day at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut. The total sortie time of one hour included hover control checks, low speed flight, and making a pass of the airfield.
Operating under the official call sign of Marine One, the VH-92A will be used to ferry the US President, Vice President, and other officials. It’s being developed under a US$1.24 billion US Navy Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract for the US Marine Corps’ VH-92A Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program awarded on May 7, 2014. Under the contract, Sikorsky will provide two test/trainer aircraft and four production aircraft with the option for an additional 17 helicopters.
The VH-92A is based on the dual-engine, medium-lift S-92A commercial variant helicopter, which has flown over one million hours with over 200 customers in 10 countries. It replaces the current Marine One fleet made up of VH-3D Sea Kings and VH-60N WhiteHawks built in the 1960s and 1980s, which are now obsolete and long past their service lives.