February 24th, 2009
12:20 PM ET
5 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. CWW, Arizona

    I think McCain is still a little bitter for trying to put Obama on the spot. It's not like Obama ordered the helicopter.

    February 24, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Mike Dallas

    With all the problems we face, McCain chose to complain about an order of helicopters by the shrub? He tried to twist it and make it look as though President Obama had ordered them.

    McCains' cheap shot yesterday at the conference made McCain appear to be a small, bitter old man. Just another repub trying to further the repub agenda to make sure "Obama fails".

    February 24, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. Simmy

    Why didn't McCain question Bush while he was still in office? His drama yesterday was soooooooooooo transparent.. Lol!

    February 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. dennis

    Here is what I don't get. They all want us to save and go green and they want to spend millions of dollars and get these copters. I say they should do what they want us to do. Put them in a hybrid and drive... Another point why is the mrs. going ini the chopper she should be driving and quit wasting the taxpayers money and drive...

    February 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. Karen- Tired of the Crap

    McCain is a absolute LOSER! I wonder if he would be saying the same thing if he had become President. Absolutely NOT! We all know the Republicans are pissed off because this new President isn't playing their games and is getting down to business on bringing this economy back! I happend to agree with President Obama, he's ok with the current helicopter and so are we the American people. I might also add, if there is a need for the President to get another helicopter due to safety, then by all means do so. I absolutely can't wait til 2010 to get rid of the other Republicans, there's no bipartinship with them simply because they are not running the show.

    February 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  6. Jen from NJ

    I agree with the idea that these helicopters are not necessary. However, there should be one dedicated to the President for his use... just not be one that costs millions. What I do not understand is, if Bush ordered these post 9/11, why are they not already built? Cancel the order...

    February 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. Oh Boy!!!???

    This is nothing but partisan bickerfest. Bush orders the dang things and the rethugs blast Obama.

    If a contract was signed by Bush, we may be STUCK with the bill.

    Nothing new there.

    February 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. J Wilborn

    McCain is stupid. Was that all he could think of to say? It is so sad that McCain is a bitter ,old, white haired man who lost the election, his GOP lost and is continuing to lose and he and the GOP want to try and find anything to antagonize and disagree with President Obama. The GOP wants to see this presidency fail and they cannot stand the fact that President Obama is on task. The country is on point with the President and the GOP can't handle it. Don't they know their time is past and gone? It is really a new day and a new time. Giving up is hard to do, but Oh! Well. In actuality , McCain is the one who looked Stupid

    February 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Obama_Biden

    What the good Senator failed to mention was the fact that President Bush ordered those helicopters. Now that President Obama has put a stop to the project, if something happens to Marine One, Sen. McCain should be the first one to be interviewed.

    February 24, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. Andrew

    I am not saying that 11 Billion dollars for helicopters isn't rediculus, but what I am saying is we just spent 787 Billion on a 'stimulus' package that was suppose to help people keep their jobs, but now we can't spend 11 Billion to keep the people employed in New York who were going to build them? The current helicopters are 30 years old. They have run their course. They carry the most important man on the planet. I'm not saying we need 28 of them at 11 billion, but ordering 10 may not be out of the question.

    February 24, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. Ms. Johnson, Pearland,Texas

    Come on Senator, come up with some real problems... That is the difference in a man who owns 7 or 8 houses as opposed a man who owns one. Your gotcha question made you look small.

    February 24, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  12. gg

    what kind of drugs is mccian on arizona better check there drinking water

    February 24, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. TM in CO

    11 Billion for a fleet of Presidential helicopters? What was Mr. Bush thinking when he placed this order? President Obama should cancel this order instead of put it on hold. The taxpayer picks up this cost and I can barely afford the vehicle I have. Why should my tax dollar go to a whole darn fleet of helicopters? By a hybrid and drive to Camp David......................Geeze.

    February 24, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  14. Lor

    Well, When Bush put in the order did McCain express any objection to it then? We want our president to be safe!!!

    February 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  15. Alicia Boynton

    The President is right on this one. The administration officials can ride around in their electric cars, just like they shamed the auto CEOs to do.

    February 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. Deb

    Have anyone ever notice how the repubs think the US belongs to them.....NEWSFLASH it DOESN'T!!!!!!

    February 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. david

    obama should also stop the intended 900 million, or so, from going to rebuild the gaza. palestinians, hamas, hezbollah, arabs all danced in their streets when bin attacked the WTC successfully. appeasing the enemy is a sure sign of weakness, of cowardice, of surrender. obama should be impeached if one dime goes to the gaza instead of american citizens in this economy. obama is wrong to allow hillary to promise aid and comfort to the enemies of the usa. impeach obama!

    February 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Saad from NJ

    President Obama is good human being – unlike most of his predecessors. We all should wish him well because he appears to mean well – unlike most of his predecessors.

    February 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. JC

    Let's just CANCEL the order! Enough of this aristocracy crap!

    February 24, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. Leo

    Good for him.Everything thing the President does there will be a problem.So many haters

    February 24, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. katiec

    Gosh, Mccain made it look like these helicopters were all President Obamas idea. Am sure that when they were proposed he, and
    the rest of the republican party thought they were a great idea.
    Doubt, since ordered, we can get out of paying for them, but
    since Mccain knows nil about economy, he probably does not
    realize this. The man is grabbing at anything he can to throw mud
    but this time will backfire.

    February 24, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Wolf in Wisconsin

    If I read this correctly, the order was placed for the new helicopters under former President Bush. At that time, why didn't Senator McCain question the order?????

    February 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Panther1

    It's typical of McCain and the Republican party generally to try to pin on Obama the wastefulness of the prior administration. Shameful.

    February 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. End Of An Error

    George W. Bush put in the order for a fleet of 28 presidential helicopters for $11 billion dollars? Why would he need 28 helicopters?

    It's unreal how detached the little boy king was and this puts him squarely in the company of tinhorn dictators that have the fleets of Rolls Royces and all the other junk while their subjects starve.

    I am so glad Bush is gone but do wish charges would be brought against him, Cheney, and the rest of the cabal for their war in Iraq, their warrantless wiretaps on US citizens, their deception that prevented any action on climate change for eight years, etc.

    The Bush administration was dirty and this revelation about 28 presidential helicopters proves he didn't give a damn about the people of this country or respect the position that he had been trusted wih.

    February 24, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. End Of An Error

    George W. Bush put in the order for a fleet of 28 presidential helicopters for $11 billion dollars? Why would he need 28 helicopters?

    It's unreal how detached the little boy king was and this puts him squarely in the company of tinhorn dictators that have the fleets of Rolls Royces and all the other junk while their subjects starve.

    I am so glad Bush is gone but do wish charges would be brought against him, Cheney, and the rest of the cabal for their war in Iraq, their warrantless wiretaps on US citizens, their deception that prevented any action on climate change for eight years, etc.

    The Bush administration was dirty and this revelation about 28 presidential helicopters proves he didn't care about the people of this country or respect the position that he had been trusted wih.

    February 24, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
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