February 24th, 2009
12:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Gibbs: Obama puts new presidential helicopters on hold

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the President has put on hold an order for a new fleet of presidential helicopters orginally ordered by the previous administration.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the President has put on hold an order for a new fleet of presidential helicopters orginally ordered by the previous administration.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama put on hold an order for a fleet of new helicopters that will cost at least $11 billion, his spokesman told CNN Tuesday.

"The president talked to the secretary of defense, and I think as he said yesterday to Sen. (John) McCain, we don't need any new helicopters at the White House," Robert Gibbs said on CNN's "American Morning."

Asked if that meant the order was being put on hold, Gibbs said: "That's exactly what he talked to the secretary about."

McCain, the Arizona Republican who was Obama's rival for the White House in last year's election, questioned the president about the cost of the new helicopter fleet on Monday.

"Your (proposed new) helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One," the presidential airplane, McCain said. "I don't think that there's any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas ... have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money."

The price tag for the proposed new fleet of 28 helicopters has virtually doubled to more than $11 billion over the last six years. Each helicopter in the fleet would reportedly cost around $400 million.

President Bush put in the order for new high-security presidential helicopters in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The president's helicopter is known as Marine One when he is flying on it.


Obama suggested Monday he would put the order on hold.

"I've already talked to (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates about a thorough review of the helicopter situation. The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me," a smiling Obama said to a room of laughing congressional, corporate and community leaders.

"I think it is ... an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and we're going to have to fix it," he added.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. Bridget

    So President Bush wanted to spend $11B on helicopters and President Obama put a hold on the order. Who's the fiscal conservative?

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. Lori in St Pete

    Okay, let me get this straight: McLoser more than likely approved the purchase of those new helicoptors for little georgie, thinking he would be the one flitting around in them. But since little georgie is out of the WH and McLoser ISN'T going to be the one in those helicoptors, NOW he's questioning the cost?! Just another hypocritical rethuglican tantrum that makes ya go hhhhmmmmmmmm, glad I didn't vote for him.

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. CC

    President Bush put in the order for new high-security presidential helicopters... enough said

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. Barbara G

    Sure, go ahead and spend the tax payer's money seams like that is all this president is good for. I womder if all the people that voted for him is having second thoughts. I didn't vote for him so my I can give my opinion with a clear mind. I think his inexperiance is showing, but you know they, the Dem. will never admit it.

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. Living in the Heartland..

    If John McCain were President, he would have no problem in purchasing at least ONE of those helicopters to protect his own life.

    President Obama, PLEASE be careful. They will try to trick you into compromising your own security- there are so many people who do not want someone like you in office, whether they be terrorists here or abroad.

    Please reconsider your decision on the helicopter. Keeping you safe is worth every penny and a leader of the free world should have the most advanced protection technology can create.

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. Film Professor

    And once again, who was it that was responsible for ordering a new fleet of presidential helicopters? Our wonderful ex-President, Dubya. Goodness only knows what else he decided to waste money on that has yet to be uncovered in the minutiae of the budget.

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. alvino

    And the worthless republicans have no input? Cantor looked like he was going to wet his pants when Obama called on him.

    February 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. EAS

    Great! Now let's stop 900 million to Palestine to clean up Israel's mess! That money will be much better spent on Health Care.

    February 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. NY republican

    If he thinks it's an "an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and we're going to have to fix it," why is the project only "on hold"? Will it be back in place when no one is looking? Why is it not cancelled if it's "an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and we're going to have to fix it,"? That is the man's own words but the the order is only "on hold".

    February 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. kevin mcclellan

    For information purposes: this fleet had been in the works for a number of years. Much of it was to be built in Amarillo Texas. The paper here has been following for well over a year and Textron decided were it was to be built. It was to contain the communications and anti-missle protection such a craft might need in this day and age. Amarillo was look for a number of jobs to come with the project and the city was going to build a special hanger for its assembly as I understand it.

    February 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Now old man McCane can shut the hell up.... why doesn't he just retire to one of his mansions and disappear from the hurly burly of political life?

    February 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Melody Chapin

    President Obama has made a good, sound decision to not purchase additional helicopters.

    McCain needs to mind his own business.

    February 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. beevee

    McCain should know that it was the GOP commander-in-chief who ordered the helicopter and not president Obama.

    February 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Blatherskite

    Well now, let's all watch to see how the republi-cons try to spin this into something defamatory.

    February 24, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. Jim

    Get that? Knucklehead BUSH put in the order for these flying goldbricks.

    President OBAMA cancelled the order.

    We win!

    February 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. alvino

    Rush and his merry men (Hannity, Dobbs, Shelby, Boehner and McConnell) will now accuse Obama of turning his back on the defense of our country.

    February 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  17. Tulsa L

    McCain as with all Republicans will bring up stuff to try to make Obama look like he is not doing his job or spending to much money, all the while the whole helicopter thing started with their Rep. President Bush......Obama didn't originate this massive expense for these helicopters.........Bush did.......but McCain wants the public to think this is an Obama thing...........although I will say that if these helicopters are in need of security upgrades or replacement they should be done, Obama should receive everything that all the other Presidents in the past have received......so McCain if you can't come up with any better question or if all your going to do is try to trip up the President with some of your stupid questions, don't go to these meetings cause Obama had to put you in your place and he did it so coooooooool...............

    February 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. Scott

    Now that is working together!! McCain and President Obama...

    February 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. Dewey

    Let's see if this gets posted:
    This article is purposely disingenuous. The contract in question was awarded without bidding to an Italian company called Finmeccanica, evidently as a payoff by the Bush administration for the Italians' help in falsifying evidence that Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Niger (anybody remember that?). This story has been reported in many places (check Huffington Post if you want) but not the mainstream media. Obama is trying to avoid rehashing the past crimes of the Bush administration because there are plenty of problems in the here and now. I think most Americans understand that and agree with it to some degree, but this is one situation where the facts need to come out. Cnn should do a little more reporting for its readers.

    February 24, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  20. pat C.

    stupid,stupid, stupid john mccain. republicans need to take the next 8 years off and let obama clean all the out houses bush and his boys built. mccain looks like a grumpy old man now and should bow out before he makes more of a fool of himself than he already has.

    February 24, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  21. S Callahan

    This is a joke , right?
    It's known these helicopters were ordered with the previous adminstration......so that means money was already committed and invested (=jobs,families fed and mortagages paid). Pulling it completely is foolish....scaling it down would be reasonable.

    February 24, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  22. Dan

    With "THE BEAST" , who needs a new helecopter?

    February 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Dan in NY

    I wonder how the Republican leadership will find a way to criticize Obama's "rapant spending" on this one?! He is putting the order on hold...an order placed by Bush!

    February 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  24. george phillips

    with MCcain talking bad about the helos his buddy bush ordered,kinda makes me wonder if this two faced would still be gripping if he won the election,this is the same thing he did about illeagal immagration amnesty,was for it with that fat kat kennedy then changes his mind half way thru,any sen or congressman whos been in over two terms should be tarred and feathered then run out of town the job wasnt designed to be a career bu our fore fathers i think they were much more smarter then the yahoos that run the country today

    February 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  25. Saundra in Maine

    "President Bush put in the order for new high-security presidential helicopters in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States."

    This article title should read "Obama puts new Bush helicopters on hold." You are making it seems as though President Obama personally ordered these new helicopters..way to help unite the country CNN.

    February 24, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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