Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 12:51:52 AM

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Officials Celebrate Presidential Helicopter Contract

(Source: Jason Weinstein)

"We collectively have an opportunity to see the President of the United States fly onto the South Lawn with a helicopter provided by Sikorski and Lockheed Martin," said Dan Spoor, General Manager of Lockheed Martin in Owego.

Today Lockheed Martin and elected officials celebrated the Navy's awarding of a $1.24 billion contract to Sikorski Aircraft and Lockheed to build a fleet of 21 Presidential Helicopters. Today's event ended a sometimes uncertain journey to bring the contract to Owego.

"I remember that awful day when the President was asked in 2009 if he needs a Presidential Helicopter. And he said, 'No.' And I felt almost a dagger go through my body and I knew we had to fight back," said US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

The contract will sustain 200 jobs at the Owego plant.

"It will provide sustainable, long-term jobs for people who want to be here," said US Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY, 22nd District).

Sikorski will manufacture the aircraft.  Lockheed will install the helicopters' Mission Communications Systems and provide the Maintenance Training Device and Procedures Trainer. Workers at the plant will also apply the executive paint.

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

More good news could be on the way to Lockheed's Owego plant. Both Schumer and company officials expect the Air Force to award a contract to build a fleet of combat rescue helicopters to the Sikorski-Lockheed partnership in June.

"The Air Force is now moving their way toward going through the final steps of their internal reviews to, we hope, make an award announcement by the end of June," said Spoor.

But today, all eyes were on the Presidential Helicopter.

"So when people around the world see it we'll all be thinking, 'Made in Owego, Made in the Southern Tier.' And that's a great thing," said Schumer.

The company expects the first Presidential Helicopter to be delivered in 2019.

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