In reporting on the Navy’s reported new acquisition of helicopters for the president to be delivered in 2020, The Washington Post opens:
The last time the Pentagon tried to upgrade the president’s coolest ride — the fleet of helicopters that drop him at his doorstep on the South Lawn of the White House — it didn’t go well. Costs doubled. Delays sparked ridicule, then outrage. And President Obama, then just a few weeks in office, said it was “an example of the procurement process gone amok” before defense officials killed the program outright.
It was an embarrassing debacle that cost $3.2 billion and produced no usable helicopter, turning an iconic symbol of presidential power into an illustration of government waste and incompetence.
There is much huffing and puffing by Navy officers and elected officials that such a debacle will not recur — and it may not. And yet… Gizmag reports that this is “initial US$1.24 billion contract is for six S-92 helicopters and two trainer simulators for the US Marine Corps as part of a development and conversion program that will see a fleet of 21 aircraft built for presidential use by 2023.”
$1.24 billion is a lot of money. For six helicopters and two simulators.
Then, presumably, many more dollars to scale up to 21 “aircraft built for presidential use.”
This columnist might find no sum excessive to protect the United States of America from (to appropriate and adapt a phrase from MoveOn.org) the three most frightening words in the English language, “President Joe Biden.” Yet … the delivery of these craft will occur much too late to fulfill such a noble mission.
To transport one president?
Sounds amok to this columnist.