September 24, 2008 The first operational pilot production helicopter in the VH-71 presidential helicopter program has successfully completed its 40-minute maiden flight. The PP-1 is the first of five VH-71 production aircraft that will be tested during phase one of the US$6.1 billion presidential helicopter replacement program. The VH-71 fleet promises to be the most technologically advanced in the world, providing an “oval office in the sky.”

Phase two of the program will involve producing 23 operational helicopters with increased range and upgraded navigation and communications systems, designed to ensure continuity of government when the President is airborne. The current fleet of presidential helicopters is scheduled to begin phasing models out of service at a rate of three per year, beginning in 2017.

"The maiden flight of PP-1 is a tremendous accomplishment for the VH-71 program -- as expected it performed exceptionally during its 40-minute flight," said Stephen C. Moss, CEO of AgustaWestland North America. "It is a great honor to design and build the next presidential helicopter and I look forward to adding it to the U.S. Department of Defense inventory."

Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the VH-71 program, and AgustaWestland is the principal subcontractor.