Blumenthal Says U.S. Should Build Prez’s Helicopter, Not China

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For decades, presidents have ridden on U.S.-made helicopters, but a Chinese company wants to compete against American companies, including Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft, to build Marine One.  

China Aviation Industry Corp. of China is reportedly working with U.S. Aerospace of California and plans to bid for the contract, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on Friday that he is “astounded” and that giving the contract to a Chinese-based company would jeopardize thousands of American jobs as the U.S. economy struggles.

“I will fight at every level these efforts to outsource the replacement of Marine One to China, because our highest priority must continue to be fostering economic growth and creating jobs here at home. Sikorsky helicopters have served our nation well, and they should continue to play a vital role not only in American job security but also our country’s security,” he said.

Blumenthal also said China maintains deliberate, consistent policies that undermine U.S. exports

In 2005, the U.S. Navy awarded the contract for a replacement helicopter to an American team lead by Lockheed Martin Corporation, which beat out Sikorsky.

Costs ballooned and President Barack Obama said during his campaign that there was no need for a new Marine One. But, in 2009, the Navy posted a request on a federal website asking potential suppliers to identify themselves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that any Chinese bids would meet “intense political resistance.”

The Chinese-made AC-313 frame is powered by three Pratt & Whitney engines, the Journal reports, and was designed to compete with Sikorsky's helicopters.

Eleven large and eight smaller Sikorsky helicopters make up the Marine One fleet.

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