WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement today after the U.S. Navy announced that they had awarded the contract to build the VXX Presidential Helicopter Programs Support Facility at Patuxent River Naval Air Station to Hensel Phelps Construction Company of Chantilly, Virginia. Congressman Hoyer led the effort to secure the $40 million in federal funds to begin construction of the new facility to house the Marine Corps' Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program at Pax. The Navy also announced tonight that Lockheed Martin was awarded the $1.7 billion contract to build the Presidential Helicopter.
"The award of this contract to build the new support facility for the Presidential Helicopter Program is a very significant milestone for Pax River that will allow construction of a $100 million new hangar facility to begin," said Congressman Hoyer. "This is probably the largest single construction project we have built at Pax since the facility was built in the 1940s and strategically for us, a very significant one.
"I also want to congratulate Lockheed Martin who was awarded the contract this evening to build 23 new helicopters for the Marine Corps. Additionally, this positions Lockheed to be the world's leading supplier of executive transport helicopters for other government agencies, other nations, and executives in the private sector," Hoyer added.
As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Hoyer led the effort in the Congress to ensure that the VXX Presidential Helicopter project was funded. Last year, Congressman Hoyer helped secure the authorization for the new state-of-the-art facility in the House version of the Defense bill and ensured that the funds were also included in the Military Construction Appropriations bill passed in the House of Representatives in July.
However, this program was in jeopardy during the Conference Committees, where differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills are worked out, because the program was not included in the Senate-passed Defense Authorization or Military Construction Appropriations bills. By coordinating the effort between the Navy, the Congress and others, and because funds were secured in the House bills for this project, Congressman Hoyer was able to preserve $40 million to begin construction on the new VXX facility at Pax River.
"I especially want to congratulate the talented men and women at Pax River. Each new program that comes to Pax is a testament to their first rate work and illustrates the important role they play in securing our nation and the world," added Hoyer.
The Marine Helicopter Squadron is responsible for transporting the President and Vice President of the United States, foreign heads of state, and other White House officials. This aircraft 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.