Capping one of the most contentious and hardest fought competitions for government aircraft ever, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin secured a $1.24 billion contract to begin building a new presidential helicopter based on Sikorsky's S-92.

The winning team was the only bidder in the latest phase of a decade-long effort to start replacing Marine One, the 1960s-era Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King, with a fleet of modern helicopters.

The contract was originally awarded to Agusta Westland of Italy in 2009, but that bid collapsed amid technical difficulties and billions of dollars in cost overruns.

Many also condemned the awarding of the Marine One contract to a non-U. company, although Agusta Westland's partner on the project would have been Lockheed Martin.

This time around Agusta Westland, Boeing and Bell Helicopter did not bid, believing the latest Pentagon specifications strongly favored the S-92.

The Navy contract covers the construction of six helicopters, with the number eventually likely to rise to 21.

Sikorsky will build the helicopters in Stratford, Connecticut, while Lockheed Martin will install mission systems in Owego, New York. In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free.