WASHINGTON, May 7 (Reuters) - Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, on Wednesday won an initial $1.24 billion contract from the U.S. Navy to develop and build six new U.S. presidential helicopters, the first step toward a fleet of 21 new aircraft by 2023, the Pentagon announced.
The award capped years of efforts to replace the Marine One helicopters that ferry the president and other top officials.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled an earlier program managed by Lockheed Martin Corp in 2009 after the cost of the program rose sharply. Lockheed will be the key subcontractor to Sikorsky on the new program, which is based on the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter that is already used by 10 nations for their head of state missions. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler)