McCain Questions Obama About Helicopter At Summit

President Barack Obama never had a helicopter, which he says might explain why he's perfectly happy with the current White House fleet and doesn't need a more costly one. At the conclusion of a fiscal summit Monday, Obama faced questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including his former presidential rival, Sen. John McCain.

McCain bemoaned cost overruns in military procurement. The new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters being built by Lockheed Martin Corp. — now over budget at $11.2 billion — will cost more than Air Force One.

Obama said the helicopter he has now seems adequate, adding that he never had a helicopter before and "maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it."

Obama said he has already talked to Defense Secretary Robert Gates about reviewing the program and its ballooning costs.

"It is an example of the procurement process gone amok, and we're going to have to fix it," Obama said.

The Navy — which is in charge of overseeing the helicopter program — reported to Congress in January that its price tag had nearly doubled. That notification triggered a formal process mandating the program be re-certified as a national security requirement by senior Pentagon leadership.

The Navy waited nearly a year before formally disclosing the information to lawmakers as it sought to find ways to keep the program within budget. Those efforts failed.

Gates already has warned of tough cuts in the upcoming fiscal 2010 budget as the Pentagon faces the pressure of paying for two wars during a recession.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Troy Scully said in a statement, "We are committed to the program's success and are confident we can deliver the required number of helicopters compliant with the specifications that emerge from the ongoing review."

A Navy spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment Monday evening.

The helicopter, which will be outfitted with communications equipment, anti-missile defenses and hardened hulls, is dubbed Marine One whenever the president is on board. The aircraft is expected to be similar to Air Force One, unlike the 30-year-old helicopters they would replace.

Shares of Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin fell $3.88, or 5 percent, to $73.87 Monday.

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  • by Edward Location: Ponzer,NC on Feb 24, 2009 at 06:12 PM
    Obama just spent more American tax payer money in 1 week. On his Spending Bill. Then the cost of the entire 10 years the Viet Nam war cost us in US Dollars. Go Big O
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Feb 24, 2009 at 03:31 PM
    Iraq war dead 4250 (Viet Nam war dead 65,000 plus) Iraq injured 31,000 (Viet Nam injured 100,000 plus, some have never come home or been accounted for). Iraq war by Pres. Bush, Viet Nam war by LBJ. Iraq can be won, Viet Nam was all politics and NO win.
  • by Sandy Location: Chocowinity,NC on Feb 24, 2009 at 03:30 PM
    Now that this is Obama's war. I wonder How many Killed in Action, and Injured there are since he took office. Thank you Barack Hussein Obama I hope you have a lot of sleepless nights.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 24, 2009 at 03:07 PM
    As of Monday, at least 4,250 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003. More than 31,000 have been injured. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died as well. Enjoy you life people, you are lucky you still have one. Thank you George W Bush I hope you have a lot of sleepless nights.
  • by You Need Credibility on Feb 24, 2009 at 02:08 PM
    VBush, You say the republicans haven't had a real conservative leader since Newt Gingrich. Hell I am wondering what happened to your "GREAT FEARLESS LEADER GEORGE W BUSH AND LET US NOT FORGET HIS FEARLESS DADDY GEORGE H BUSH"put one of them in there they will fix your party up real good lol. Come on V tell the truth there is not a republican or has there ever been one worth the power and lead it would take to blow them to kingdom come. You all need to start you a new party if you ever want credibility because you sure don't have credibility now and you never have had it.
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Feb 24, 2009 at 11:17 AM
    Since McCain talked Obama out of 11.2 Billion dollars in new Helicopters. Unbelievable Obama took only one ride on one when he became president now he wants 28 new ones.? -- Now Obama has staff already working on amnesty , they want fast citizenship of all illegal aliens. Obama said: "We're going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current [immigration] system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens " They all want to become citizans' are able to do it; that it's cheaper, that it's faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members. Great more Illegals. Who are these staff members working on amnesty? Good by more American workers. Why hire me when can pay an illegal alien under the table. Thanks Big O you done it again. Screw the American worker.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Feb 24, 2009 at 09:30 AM
    John, get your head out of the sand! George Bush and his fellow Liberal Placaters (so called Republicans) are exactly the reason you libs won. Bush and his Republicans didn't seize the day! The kissed the lefts tail at every turn (with the exception of foreign policy) and that is why we are here today. The Republicans haven't had a real conservative leader since Newt Gingrich. Enjoy your liberal secular leaders, they will probably be in power long enough to burn our nation to the ground.
  • by John on Feb 24, 2009 at 08:35 AM
    You republicans have a lot of nearve thinking Obama wants your opion on anything. Not one time in eight years did George A\H Bush care about what the people in this country wanted let alone what the Demacrats whanted.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Feb 24, 2009 at 07:54 AM
    Well comrad Barlow, that time is come to USSA as we become owned by the Chinese. Contrary to the "facts" Windmills will not take care of the US power needs. Those that are in place in California are under protest by residents due to what they do to the landscape and the noise they make. Sorry, this is not an idea world, even the windmills they place in the ocean has environmentalist saying it harms fish. So, T Boone is one of the largest manufacturer of windmills. Funny, if it were such a good thing to get into, why does he not operate his own utility companies? He is certainly rich enough to do so. Why is solar not making it? The cost of the kilowatt is three times the cost of coal based on usefull life of the panel. So, dream on, E=MC2 still applies as the best.
  • by @@@ on Feb 24, 2009 at 07:46 AM
    McBush did not talk Obama into anything Obama had already said he did not want new helicopters. Obama knows what he is doing without McBush. You McBush fans need to get over your self. What will it take to make you republicans understand Obama can do without your help.
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