New Marine One Expected to Start Flying President Biden Soon
The White House and the Marine Corps are developing commissioning plans.
President Joe Biden is expected to start flying in new “Marine One” helicopters in the coming months, a top U.S. Marine Corps general said.
Marine Helicopter Squadron One, known as HMX-1, already has its first four Sikorsky VH-92 helicopters, and delivery of two more is “imminent,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gregory Masiello, program executive officer for air anti-submarine warfare, assault, and special mission programs, said at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference.
“The squadron and the program are ready today,” Masiello said. “So we have enough aircraft for the initial usage, we have enough pilots that are trained, we have the support equipment. We have all that kind of stuff.”
The White House Military Office and the Marine Corps are working on a plan to commission the much-anticipated new helicopter. The Marines are also planning to shift pilots from the current Marine One helicopters to the VH-92.
“I think that will all coalesce over the next few months and you will see the VH-92s in service shortly,” Masiello said.
HMX-1 currently flies VH-3D helicopters that have been carrying presidents since the 1970s, and VH-60N White Hawks. The squadron also operates a small fleet of V-22 Ospreys that occasionally fly the president’s staff and White House press corps.
VH-92s have been flying over the Washington, D.C., region since 2018. The aircraft made its public debut in 2019 during former President Donald Trump’s Independence Day parade; the Marines put the helicopter through operational evaluations earlier this year, Masiello said.
The Marines plan to buy 23 VH-92s.
“The VH-92A is expected to provide improved performance, communications, and survivability capabilities, while offering increased passenger capacity,” the Government Accountability Office said in its latest assessment of the project.
In 2018, it was revealed the powerful helicopter could occasionally damage the White House lawn.
“The program expects to reduce risk...for this requirement with a new auxiliary power unit exhaust deflector, which it reports has demonstrated significant reduction of exhaust directed toward the ground,” GAO said in its latest assessment.