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. mama4obama

    McCain is doing anything and everything he can to stay relevant. The trouble is that he is too late. Go home old man. Your work here is done.

    February 24, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. Beverly, NYC

    Isn't it convenient that Senator McCain forgot that the helicopters were a Bush initative, bet he voted for that spending without batting a lash. Where was your vote for the new GI bill, or veteran healthcare
    Mr. McCain. Republican hypocrite!

    February 24, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. GG

    I guess if comments don't agree with you ,you do not post them... This is the 3rd time my comments have NOT been posted... Let's be fair!!!!

    February 24, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Laverne

    John McCain needs to shut his flap. He is irrelevant and continue to stick his mouth in things that are not his business. I know he did not voice his opinion about the helicopters when Bush ordered the fleet. Again, this was Bush doing and a stupid republican is trying to make it out to be a bad Obama decision. I hope the people of Arizona retire him in 2010!

    February 24, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. john steele

    $11 billion??ordered by who??was it going to pass if it were reviewed during the previous administration?? 2 for the prez is ok..at least for the economy

    February 24, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Todd

    Why in the world is Obama taking commands from John McCain over expenditures approved by George W. Bush?

    February 24, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. khif

    Watch a real president handle business. Republican's take note.

    February 24, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. aware530

    I'm getting tired of republicans really! They are more concern with 2012 than concern with 2009. It has been stated that 3 out of 4 people are scared about the state we are in. They are scared not because of Obama but they are scared because they are unsure about what is going to happen. They should place blame of those who are ignorant to the new administration. The republicans need to get foucesd and put up the flag and surrender!

    February 24, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Bananarama Victim

    Added McCain: "My friends; get off my lawn!"

    February 24, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. NoMcSame

    Why didn't McSame say something when Bush ordered them years ago? These guys are full of games and My President just shoots them down every time. Now they want to save after giving away the bank. Iraq had an open check when Bush was in office and McSame signed on to every one of them but now when Americans are in need they cry about spending. What are we going to do about it America? We see what they are about.

    February 24, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  11. The Public is Smarter Than You Think .... You Republican Partisan

    I resent this flippant, political comment from John McCain and regret seeing President Obama give any pause to this procurement because of it.

    These helicopters were ordered and their purchase was managed under GeoBush. If McCain were so worried about it, he had 8 years to pipe up.

    The old helicopters are over 30 years old and lack the security, safety and survivability features of the new ones ... mind you there .... are 11 of them. The President's ability to have secure communication protocals with forces and the government are compromised / limited with the old technology.

    People think McCain is so knowledgible about "Commander-in-Chief" related stuff. This shows just how little he knows and just how partisan he can be.

    February 24, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Chris

    There goes the leader of the lame ducks trying to ruffle some feathers.....What o Joke!

    February 24, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. itbeme

    "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."

    what mcidiot failed to mention was the fact the bush baby was the one who ordered the new helicopters.....not Obama. Just goes to show once again how out of touch the repukes really are. bush baby didn't care how much it costs the tax payers, as long as he got what he wanted.

    February 24, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. keeth in california

    Where was the GOP questioning the price tag when Bush signed the order? McCain/Palin: Whining to that darn liberal media 'til 2012.

    28 helicopters are too many anyway. He could get by with 8.

    February 24, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Moroni

    Good to see the president has the right priorities.

    February 24, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Adrianne

    Don't you love how Republicans are trying to make a big deal about things that BUSH ordered? Good for Obama for saying enough is enough – perhaps if more companies get shot down after inflating already outrageous contracts after they are signed, there will be more accountability.

    February 24, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. MAGGIE

    A fiscally responsible president with common sense. That's a great change from the last 8 years.

    February 24, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. Shari, NY

    If Bush had put in the order for these pricey choppers, McCain should have made reference to that before accosting Obama on the subject.

    February 24, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. Axel

    There's a simple solution to maintaining the Presidential and White House chopper fleet, just order the same helis the joint chief's and the Generals use. That way you are just plucking a few helis off the existing (much cheaper) USAF production line.

    February 24, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. Diana NJ

    John Pitiful McCain, with the camera's on... is that the point he wanted to make. Helicopters ordered by HIS FRIEND PRESIDENT BUSH, he wanted to attach to President Obama?...

    It is a Good thing he lost we would be in a bigger pickle..

    February 24, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. Mike NC

    John McCain must be getting senile, why are you questioning President Obama about helicopters. Don't you remember that the dimwit that ran this country for the last 8 years ordered them.

    February 24, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. Ken

    I am happy to see that there is at least one place besides National Defense that Obama is willing to NOT SPEND. It is a conflict though, I guess the folks that make choppers do not need any "stimulus". Must not be a Democrat party supporting union shop?

    February 24, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. Kevin

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

    The US gubment procurement process has been running amuck for decades. Mr. President, changing this process is the type of change that we need. I triple-dog dare you to make me a believer of your desire to change Washington.

    February 24, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. WI Cheesehead

    Ever wonder why you only get a penny back for your thought after putting in your 2 cents worth? Why didn't McCain raise this issue when GWB was in office? Oh I get it in 2008 the GOP had its head in the sand in DENIAL of a recession that started in late 2007 and they DELAYED on using the “R” word until Fall-2008 when the economic levees broke Katrina style and now they are busy bodies DOING NOTHING to get things back on track besides GRANDSTANDING.

    February 24, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. survivor

    Next question McCain!

    February 24, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
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