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Lockheed helicopter contract in trouble: report

Undated file photo showing the Lockheed Martin US101 test helicopter. A large Lockheed Martin contract to build a fleet of helicopters for the president could be in trouble, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday, citing people familiar with the situation. REUTERS/HO/Lockheed Martin GN

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A large Lockheed Martin LMT.N contract to build a fleet of helicopters for the president could be in trouble, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday, citing people familiar with the situation.

The newspaper said John Young, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, has called for a meeting with the company on Saturday to talk about Lockheed’s plans to build 28 Marine One helicopters for the White House.

According to the report, the program has run into engineering challenges and delays, which could push the $6.1 billion contract over budget by billions of dollars.

The paper said that the Pentagon is considering canceling, severely cutting back the program, or even asking United Technologies Corp.'s UTX.N Sikorsky helicopter unit to produce a version of its S-92 helicopter for the president.

Lockheed, along with Italian firm Finmeccanica SpA SIFI.MI, won the contract to build the helicopters in 2005.

A company spokesman said Lockheed continues to look at options with the Navy on how to proceed with the program.

Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Ben Tan

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