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After years of debate, Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., was awarded a $1.24 billion initial contract to test and build the first six new presidential helicopters, the US Navy announced Wednesday. Under the contract, Sikorsky will deliver six FAA-certified S-92 helicopters and two trainer simulators to the Marine Corps. The company will deliver a total of 21 aircraft by 2023. “We are honored by this news and the vote of confidence in the Sikorsky team and the proven S-92 platform,” said Sikorsky President Mick Maurer in a statement. “For 57 years, our company has been trusted with the critical responsibility of building and supporting a safe and reliable helicopter fleet for the President of the United States. We are proud of our record and the bright future for our company. We stand ready to deliver the next Marine One, the world’s most advanced executive transport helicopter.” Sikorsky is expected to deliver the first two aircraft, both engineering development models, to the Navy in 2018. The remaining four aircraft will perform operational test and evaluation and then transition to operational status, states the company release. (See also The Saga of Marine One from the February 2012 edition of Air Force Magazine.)