GAO, April 13, 2019 - The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a 20 pages long annual report (PDF, PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTER: Program Continues to Make Development Progress While Addressing Challenges ) on the Sikorsky VH-92 helicopter acquisition program.
The annual review of this acquisition found:
- The estimated cost has declined from $5.18 billion to $4.95 billion since 2014. This was in part because there have been few design changes
- The program remains within its overall schedule. However, delays will give program officials 3 to 5 months less time to evaluate whether they are ready to begin production
- The program continues to work on challenges in communication links, and other areas
Acquisition cost estimates for the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (also known as the VH-92A) have declined from $5.18 billion to $4.95 billion, for 23 new helicopters, since the program started in April 2014 and the program remains within its planned schedule.
The contractor attributes this cost decrease to several factors: stable requirements, a low number of design changes, and program efficiencies.
The President relies on a fleet of helicopters for transportation that has been in service for decades. The mission of the presidential helicopter fleet is to provide safe, reliable, and timely transportation in support of the President. The Navy plans to acquire 23 new helicopters, called VH-92A, to replace the current Marine Corps fleet of VH-3D and VH-60N aircraft.
Initial delivery of VH-92A presidential helicopters is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2020 with production ending in fiscal year 2023. The total cost of this acquisition program was originally estimated at almost $5.2 billion.
About GAO report
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 included a provision for GAO to report on the VH-92A program annually, until the Navy awards the full-rate production contract.
To determine how the program is progressing, GAO analyzed program documents; and spoke with officials from the program office, the Defense Contract Management Agency, contractors, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and Department of Defense, Developmental Test and Evaluation. GAO also assessed the program's integrated master schedule against GAO best practices.
GAO is not making any recommendations in this report, but will continue to monitor the potential cost growth and schedule delays as the program responds to challenges meeting capability requirements.