Newly-released images show the next-generation Presidential helicopter, the Sikorsky VH-92A, conducting its first landing September on the White House South Lawn, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) told USNI News last week.
A spokesman for the NAVAIR, which is overseeing development of the new presidential helicopter, said, on Sept. 22, the VH-92A flew over the National Mall and landed on the White House lawn for the first time.
As part of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program, Sikorsky was in 2014 awarded a $1.2 billion contract to build a fleet of six helicopters for transport of the US President.
The defense company has outfitted the VH-92A with an executive interior and military mission support systems, including triple electrical power and redundant flight controls.
Six VH-92A had been ordered by the Navy for delivery in 2017. Production of a further 17 aircraft is planned to begin in 2020. The total FY 2015 program cost is $4.7 billion for 23 helicopters, at an average price of $205 million per aircraft
The Drive website first reported the images.
NAVAIR said the landing and take-offs were part of a comprehensive test plan designed to ensure the aircraft meets all operational specifications. The Drive notes that the helicopter’s impact on the White House lawn is an integral part of the testing process.
The new helicopter will be ready for service in the second half of 2020. The White House Military Office will decide on when it will be used by the President, according to NAVAIR.