Don't look now, but United Technologies' (NYSE:UTX) Sikorsky unit may have just won the contract to build President Obama's new presidential helicopter -- unopposed.
About eight months ago, the U.S. Navy got its "VXX" helicopter program up and running again, after the program had been canceled for cost overruns two years prior. The plan, as detailed in a Department of the Navy draft Request for Proposals, called for bids to build a new fleet of helicopters for the Navy, to serve as "Marine One" for the President. Bids on the contract are due Thursday.
However, it now appears there will be only one bid actually submitted, this being the one from Sikorsky and its partner, Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT).
Olly, olly, oxen-free!
So far, Boeing (NYSE:BA) has declined to bid with versions of either its Chinook helicopter, or the V-22 Osprey that it builds for the military in cooperation with Textron (NYSE:TXT) -- taking Textron out of the competition by association. On July 30, the last remaining potential bidder, a team-up of Europe's AgustaWestland and America's Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), confirmed that they, too have decided to drop out of the competition, and will not bid Thursday.
And that leaves Sikorsky as the last man standing.
Theirs to lose
Of course, Sikorsky has not yet officially won anything. According to the timeline set up by the Navy, the winner of this "competition" won't be announced till Q3 of next year. This leaves the Navy some wiggle room in the timeline.
If the Navy finds it too embarrassing to give Sikorsky what's essentially going to be a no-bid contract, for example, it might decide to pull the RFP -- tweak the details and requirements so as to make building the Presidential chariot a more attractive proposition, and entice more bidders. For now, though, Sikorsky -- which is already the incumbent builder of "Marine One" VH-60N Night Hawks and VH-3D Sea Kings -- looks likely to retain its monopoly.
Unless a challenger emerges, Sikorsky will remain the builder of choice for the most famous helicopter on the planet.
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