Chinese stealth fighter maker may soon be flying Obama in its choppers!

Friday, February 4, 2011

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama and future US presidents may one day fly on Chinese made helicopters, as the United States is looking to replace the aging Marine One fleet used by its president.

China Aviation Industry Corp. known as AVIC is also developing the J-20 stealth fighter, which made its first public test flight last month. The J-20 appears to be designed to rival US F-22 Raptor, the world’s only fully operational stealth fighter

AVIC has teamed up with a California company to try to launch bids for US defense contracts, including one to supply Chinese helicopters to replace Marine One fleet.

AVIC has been in talks for more than a year with California-based US Aerospace Inc. about offering the AC-313 - China’s largest domestically produced helicopter - as the next generation of the Marine One fleet, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The AC-313, which made its first flight last year, is powered by three engines made by Pratt and Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. and can seat up to 27 passengers and two crew members.

It is designed to compete with the likes of Sikorsky and AgustaWestland in the global market for civilian helicopters.

“It may sound ludicrous but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. We want China to supply aircraft to the US because we think it makes economic sense,” said John Kirkland, a lawyer for U.S. Aerospace who is directly involved in the negotiations and authorized to speak on the company’s behalf.

The Marine One fleet consists of 19 helicopters - 11 Sikorsky VH-3Ds that entered service in 1976 and eight smaller Sikorsky VH-60Ns, which were introduced in 1989.

In 2005, the US Navy awarded a contract to supply a replacement dubbed the V-XX to a US team led by Lockheed Martin for delivery between 2009 and 2014.

By 2009, however, the cost of the program had escalated and, under political pressure, President Obama canceled the contract and asked the Navy to find a cheaper option.

The people involved in the partnership say the two companies have also been discussing putting AVIC’s new L-15 trainer jet as a candidate to replace the US fleet of Northrop T-38s, The Wall Street Journal reports. (ANI)

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