AgustaWestland and Boeing announced this morning they are partnering to bid on the latest presidential helicopter program. Boeing says it will secure a license to produce AgustaWestland's AW101, which means Boeing gets full intellectual property, data and production rights in support of the VXX program. Boeing will be the prime contractor on the so-called Boeing-101 helicopter. All of this seems to guarantee that Boeing can claim the AW101 is American made.
In the last competition for the Marine Corps presidential helicopter, the AgustaWestland/Lockheed Martin team suffered under Capitol Hill's strong Buy American sentiment. Now partnered with Sikorsky, Lockheed may feel it is in a better position than last time, with two U.S.-based corporate entities offering a U.S. designed and built aircraft. It will be interesting to see if Boeing can conquer the same issues simply by taking position as prime contractor and building the AgustaWestland aircraft stateside.
More on this later today on the Aviation Week Intelligence Network and here on AviationWeek.com.