June 17, 2009

In Wake Of Announcement of 750 Job Cuts, Gillibrand Calls for Sustained Funding for Marine One

Yesterday, Lockheed Announced Plans To Cut Up To 750 Jobs In New York

Washington, D.C. - In the wake of yesterday's announcement that Lockheed Martin Corp. plans to cut up to 750 jobs in New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called for sustained funding for the Increment One phase of the Marine One program. The presidential helicopter program has already produced nine aircraft that are in varying stages of test or integration. In addition, according to current Navy estimates, the cost of a new Marine One program could be as high as $17 billion, not including the cost of extending the life of the current fleet, essentially putting the estimated cost exactly where the current project stands.

"The Marine One program provides hundreds of good-paying jobs right here in Upstate New York, and now is not the time to cut these jobs," Senator Gillibrand said. "The U.S. has already sunk $3 billion into this program and walking away from that investment is not fiscally responsible. It seems wiser to spend a limited amount of additional money to get a useable product that will be a step up from the aging current fleet than to put these federal dollars down the drain. I will continue working with our Congressional Delegation to fight for these jobs."

The original Marine One program requirements consisted of two increments: Increment One consisted of nine helicopters tasked with providing an immediate increased capability to meet urgent security needs, while Increment Two was geared to provide aircraft performance improvements, technology enhancements and increased capabilities of 23 helicopters.

The government has already invested $3.3 billion into the Marine One program. In order to terminate this program, the Department of Defense will have to spend millions in termination costs on top of the billions of dollars already spent.  In addition, they will have to spend millions to extend the lives of the current presidential helicopter fleet past their planned service life.   

Lockheed Martin has already built nine Increment One helicopters, and claim they can build 19 Increment One helicopters to replace the current fleet for the original estimate of $6.8 billion. Although the Increment One helicopter does not fully meet the requirements found within the Increment Two option, it is an upgrade as compared to the existing presidential fleet. 

In her letter to the Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye and Ranking Member Thad Cochran, Senator Gillibrand wrote, "I strongly support the option of sustaining the VH-71 presidential helicopter program and urge you to consider providing the funding necessary to procure nineteen Increment One aircraft.  Given the age of the existing fleet, the lack of a solid fleet replacement plan, and the billions of dollars already invested in the program, I feel this is the best option for the safety and security of the President, as well as the best utilization of taxpayer money."