U.S. Sen. Charles
Schumer (D-N.Y) has been pushing the Defense Department to award the contract to build the presidential helicopter, Marine One, at the Lockheed Martin plant in
Owego, New York. He also has been urging construction of quarters for visitors at the Niagara Air Reserve Station.
The senator reported in a news release issued Thursday, Jan. 13, that he had spoken by telephone the day before with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concerning the criteria for deciding whether Lockheed Martin or United Technology Corporation’s
Sikorsky Aircraft unit should receive the multi-million dollar contract for the presidential helicopter. He estimated
the contract could generate up to 700 jobs for the successful bidder.
“The US 101's unique capabilities make it ideally suited to serve as the next Presidential
helicopter," Schumer said. “I'm putting the pressure on Secretary Rumsfeld so that he understands
that this decision must be made on the merits. We need the best helicopter out there to transport
the President. That helicopter is the US 101. Needless to say, delivering this contract to the
Lockheed plant would be huge for the local economy, and I’m doing everything possible to get it
Schumer offered these arguments in behalf of a helicopter to be produced in Owego: "The Lockheed Martin US 101 offers a cabin one-third larger than the competition and has three
engines for additional flight safety. In addition, it has a proven track record, having logged more
than 45,000 flight hours and seen service in Bosnia and Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to
Lockheed Martin, the US 101 will be equipped with an enhanced Defensive Aids Suite as well as
state-of-the-art communications equipment, and will provide improvements in safety, travel range,
the ability to operate in bad weather, and a number of other critical areas. LMO established itself
as a key provider of military technology in the 1950’s and has since been a global leader in
providing advanced technology products and services for the US armed forces."
Schumer also issued a news release telling of his work to secure quarters for visiting air personnel at the Niagara Air Reserve Station located about six miles from the City of Niagara Falls. Another phone call he made on Wednesday was to Tina Jonas, the Defense Department comptroller, to explain that her predecessor Dov Zakheim had agreed to requesting funds to renovate the billeting at the air base. Present quarters are deteriorating and are not accessible to
people with diabilities, he said.
“When we secured the funding commitment from the previous Defense Department Comptroller, it meant
we would be getting money to Niagara quickly and moving this project closer to the finish line,”
Schumer said. “I called Comptroller Jonas to ensure that she would keep her predecessor’s
commitment to funding the new Visitors Quarters. Since the station is the second largest employer
in the county this project is important to the local economy and area jobs. Most importantly, we
need to do everything we can to help the men and women of the 914th Airlift Wing and the 107th Air