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Finmeccanica Looks for Partner in White House Helicopter Bid

Finmeccanica SpA, Italy’s biggest defense contractor, said it is looking for a partner as the U.S. Defense Department restarts the process of replacing the ageing fleet of presidential helicopters. The group will respond with the subsidiary AgustaWestland. Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, Finmeccanica’s chief executive officer, said at a press conference in London today.

Lockheed Martin Corp. won a contract valued at more than $6 billion in 2005 to build 28 helicopters to replace the fleet of 19 helicopters, some of which are 40 years old. The Obama administration canceled it last year because of cost overruns. Finmeccanica was the major subcontractor for the helicopter.

Now, while waiting for financial compensation, Finmeccanica is preparing for new competition. And, according to Guarguaglini, it is not jet decided that the U.S. will partner Lockheed Martin. “We have a year and a half, two years before choosing, and there are several possibilities.” L-3 or Boeing are considered as potential partners. “It depends on the Lockheed Martin mood,” Guarguaglini said. “I am not sure they are still interested” in jointly pursuing the contract.

The Pentagon called for companies to indicate their interest in bidding to replace the Marine One helicopters,  the “request for proposals,” which would include exact specifications for the helicopter; will be issued in about two years..

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