Obama’s Billion Dollar Helicopters

Fucking insane.

The Daily Beast reports:

The Pentagon has awarded a contract to begin development of the most expensive helicopters ever made.

Each helicopter will probably cost at least $400 million. The entire project, to build at least 23 helicopters, has been estimated to eventually cost between $10 billion to $17 billion. By comparison, the project could pay the combined defense budgets of Finland, Norway, and Sweden for one year ($16.9 billion).

The passengers for this enormously expensive helicopter fleet? The President of the United States and his entourage.

The Daily Mail follows that up with:

The contract, given to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, will cost an initial $1,244,677,064 ‘for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement program.’ For that price the U.S. Navy will get six test aircraft and all the necessary research & development.

The Pentagon made a similar attempt to replace the aging fleet of Sikorsky choppers, spending $3.2 billion on a landing pad to nowhere.

Adding in the likely $17 billion price tag for the new project – a number estimated by the Congressional Budget Office – the $20 billion total makes the fleet the most expensive helicopters ever built.

The final price comes out to almost a billion dollars per aircraft.  Given it’s the government, you could probably throw an extra 25% on top of that estimate for cost overruns.

Something smells about this.  Even the Pentagon isn’t so retarded as to spend nearly a billion dollars per helicopter.  For comparison, the cost of a brand spank’n new YF-22 Raptor comes in around $150 million.  A billion dollars could buy you a fully loaded Aegis guided missile cruiser.  A helicopter that costs as much as a fully loaded warship?  Are you fucking kidding me?

Last year Defense Market Intelligence reported that the Canadian government rejected the delivery of 28 Cyclone helicopters, a maritime variant of Sikorsky’s S-92 (the same type the President is ordering for himself).  That project had a program cost of around $5 billion.  Sikorsky was given nearly 10 years, and in that time they failed to deliver a single helicopter that met specification standards.

Anyone wanna take bets they fail to deliver this time as well?

Just doing some ballpark estimates:

The civilian model S-92 costs around $32 million, with the military variant costing roughly double that.  The military variant is hardened and contains all the specialized communication gear and electronic warfare gear you would expect to find on a presidential helicopter.  So that means each presidential helicopter will have around 350 million dollars in additional upgrades?

The helicopter has an empty weight of around 16,000 lbs.  If you made one out of pure gold at $1300 per oz, that comes out to $333 million, which is less than the ordered price.

  • Christian

    At that price they will be spacecraft not helicopters.