Saturday, March 04, 2006

White House Flying European

Few things are as symbolic of US power as the aircrafts and helicopters transporting the President of the United States around.

Air Force One is the most famous. Actually, that's the designation of any aircraft that at any time carries the president, but normally it's a specially built and very specially equipped Boeing 747 that carries this designation.

And that is likely to remain the same for decades to come.

The helicopter version is called Marine One since it's operated by the Marine Corps. But here the helicopters - old Sikorsky S61's - are beginning to get rather old, and there has been a very major competition on the replacement.

That issue was decided last year, when a competition between a Sikorsky-based design and a European-based one was decided on favour of the later.

The final helicopter will of course have very major US component, not to speak of the special equipment associated with the special mission.

But basically it is a European-designed helicopter that for decades to come will serve as Marine One.

It's a joint British-Italian design originally called EH101 and geared for troop transport and anti-submarine operations. It's one of the very most modern helicopters around.

These are days when nationalism seems to be rising. European governments are blocking trans-European mergers, and the US political scene has gone bananas about a Abu Dabi firm buying the British firm operating a number of US ports.

In this athmosphere it's worth noting that there are exceptions.

The White House will fly European. Posted by Picasa