House Approves Funds for Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program

$80 Million for New Facility in Military Construction Funding Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny Hoyer today announced that the House of Representatives approved the fiscal year 2005 Military Construction Appropriations bill last night that provides $80 million for a new facility to house the Marine Corps' Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program expected to be based at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Congressman Hoyer is a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

"Last month, the House of Representatives made a substantial commitment to fund the VXX Presidential Helicopter program by authorizing funding for the program in the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization bill," said Congressman Hoyer. "I am pleased that I was able to help work to ensure that the House of Representatives also made this commitment by including funds for this project in the Military Construction Appropriations bill."

"Additionally, we recently passed the Defense Appropriations bill which included approximately $21 million in funds that will benefit Pax River. Those projects and the $80 million included in the bill for a new state-of-the-art facility for the Marine Corps VXX program, which I am confident will soon be located at Pax, is directly attributable to the talent, expertise and invaluable capabilities at Pax River.

"Pax River plays a central role in our nation's defense as a full spectrum military installation for research, development, testing, and evaluation of military aircraft. The superior work conducted at this installation makes it a choice location for the Navy's newest and most sophisticated technologies," Hoyer added.

The Marine Helicopter Squadron travels worldwide and operates in varying environmental conditions. It must have the capabilities to ensure that the President can do his job no matter what the circumstances.

Currently only two types of helicopters are utilized by the Squadron to transport the President. These helicopters are not able to incorporate all of the latest technology and the need for improved capabilities has grown beyond the current fleet's structural and performance growth ability.

The Replacement Helicopter Program, currently referred to as VXX, will be a conventional helicopter designed to meet current threat requirements, as well as other yet unseen challenges, to provide the President of the United States with robust and efficient transportation.

The $80 million included in the Military Construction Appropriations bill will be used to construct new facilities to support this program. While the final contract for the VXX Helicopter Program has yet to be awarded, Congressman Hoyer fully anticipates that the program's contractor will utilize the capabilities at Pax River and that the project will be primarily supported at this installation throughout its entire life cycle.

The Senate must pass the fiscal year 2005 Military Construction Appropriations bill and then the differences in the two bills must be worked out in a Conference Committee before the bill may become law.

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