(Tribune News Service) — Joe Biden’s first flight on the new presidential helicopter built by Lockheed Martin Corp. is being delayed after a report by the Pentagon’s testing unit warned that it’s not yet “operationally suitable” or sufficiently reliable — especially in an emergency.
The Biden administration hasn’t yet determined if the helicopter can be put into operation because it’s still assessing its safety, according to a U.S. official who asked not to be identified discussing the internal deliberations. The White House Military Office will determine the timeline.
The helicopter is “failing to meet the reliability, availability or maintainability threshold requirements” set for it, according to an internal summary prepared for senior defense officials by the Pentagon testing office and obtained by Bloomberg News.
The VH-92 helicopter program is a $5 billion, 23-aircraft program to replace the current aging fleet used by the president and other top officials. The previously unpublished testing report, dated Sept. 28, said the aircraft is “operationally effective” for routine “administrative” missions like a run to Camp David or delivering the president to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington for a preplanned trip on Air Force One.
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