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Presidential Helicopter Bid


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Navy Secretary Gordon England reassured Connecticut lawmakers today that politics played no role in the Pentagon's decision to delay the selection of a contractor for the new presidential helicopter fleet until after the November election.


He says the Pentagon will make its choice between Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft and Maryland-based Lockheed Martin around the end of the year, based on the technical merits of the two proposals.


But some legislators say they're still concerned that the White House will play politics with the contract and choose Lockheed's team, which includes British-Italian helicopter consortium AgustaWestland.


Connecticut US Senator Christopher Dodd says he's satisfied that the state is getting a square deal from the Navy, but is concerned about politics playing a role in the decision.


The intense competition for the prestigious contract to build Marine One -- the helicopter used by the president -- has turned into a public relations skirmish over which helicopter is more American-made.

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