Ok, now that I’ve got your attention I’ll add a small discalimer – the dust hasn’t quite settled yet and no one knows at this point exactly what will happen, but from what I can tell this is one of those places where a decision was made not because it was the best one but because it was seen as being the most popular for those making the decision.
At a time when the economy is truly suffering and people everywhere are looking for leaders to do the right things, many see things such as ballooning costs in government programs as being full of fat and needing to be purged. Thus was the case with the VH-71 Presidential Helicopter. From what I understand this was a bid by Lockheed Martin for a 2 phase project. The original cost was $6 Billion for 28 helicopters. Now that is probably the seed of the overall problem. I will admit that there is a spending problem in Washington and that seems like a huge amount of money for a helicopter. As a tech person myself though, I must also admit that we as civilians also don’t know what technology they were trying to put into those helicopters to justify such a huge cost. The biggest news we have heard is that the project cost has ballooned to $13 Billion. Truth be told most of the “soaring cost overruns” and “government procurement process ‘run amok'” were probably scope creep in phase 2 where the military was trying to push the already bleeding edge technology even further which would also lead to delays and extensions of the deadlines (which was also cited as a reason for the cancelation.)
After spending $3 Billion already on phase 1 (and having 4 prototypes built – 3 of which are the final product scheduled for delivery in 2010) they decided to cut funding to the program completely and put additional money toward repairing the already failing helicopters. It seems that the money (and jobs?) would have been put to better use finishing phase 1 and having new (albeit not so technologically advanced) helicopters so they don’t fall out of the sky. Why punish the citizens and local economies because the military and government have a spending problem. Lets curtail costs where we can and reign in spending but lets not throw jobs and money away and pretend that we are doing the right thing for the economy. But hey, its all a political game right?
The President was quoted as having said “The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me,” but isn’t that kinda like someone in a building when the fire alarms are going off saying “I don’t see any smoke… must not be a real fire…” – What does he know about a helicopter?!
Further Disclaimer: I have some bias toward wanting the right decision for this program to be made as I am from the Binghamton, NY area where these possible job losses would cause a devastating problem to the local economy.