VH-71 Kestrel: The helicopter that could have been 'Marine One'

David Willis reviews the troubled project of the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel helicopter created for presidential use during the VXX program.

If things had gone differently, the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel would be one of the world’s most widely known helicopters. Conceived to revitalize the helicopter fleet used by the US President, the program was poorly defined and underwent several changes leading to cost over-runs and delays, and eventual cancellation.


VXX Program

The Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (VXX) was conceived soon after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US. It outlined an urgent requirement for a safer, more secure, and capable replacement for Marine Helicopter Squadron One’s (HMX-1) aging Sikorsky VH-3Ds and VH-60Ns, used to transport the US President and Vice-President, heads of state and other VIPs. Although based at Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Quantico in Virginia, the green and white helicopters were most associated with operations from the lawn of the White House.

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