Marine One Has A Plush New Interior
At least one of the VH-3D helicopters, which are nearing the end of their service lives, has received a new and intriguingly familiar interior.
We got a rare glimpse of President Donald Trump riding in a VH-3D from the White House to Andrews AFB in George Stephanopoulos's television special President Trump: 30 Hours that aired last Sunday on ABC. The short clip showed the inside of the aging helicopter sporting a brighter and more modern motif than anything we have seen in the past. It's clear—Marine One got a major interior makeover.
In fact, it looks a lot like the renderings we have posted that show the concept for the VH-92 Marine One replacement helicopter's interior, both of which look similar to interior found on Trump's own private 757 jet. The look is dominated by light cream-colored seating surfaces, polished woodgrain, and chrome or nickel plated accents. It isn't clear if the Trump White House had any role in selecting the decor and design of Marine One's updated cabin, but it would seem like a remarkable coincidence if not.
You can see in this past article of mine all about the interior of Marine One over the years, that up through the Obama years, it was a gray upholstery covered affair with thick blue curtains and a wood-trimmed header structure surrounding the upper part of the cabin edges. It is very much a different look from the clean and more elegant affair seen in the video clip.
Even the small handful of photos of Trump aboard Marine One since becoming President show the same interior from the Obama years. So by all indications, this new interior concept is very much that—new.
When I say Marine One, I mean at least one, but probably more like some or even all, of Marine Helicopter Squadron One's (HMX-1) VH-3D variants of the legendary, and largely retired from military service around the globe, Sikorsky Sea King helicopters. The unit has 11 still in service. The type, along with eight VH-60Ns "White Hawks" that also serve as Marine One, will be pulled from service between 2020 and 2023, with the new Sikorsky VH-92 taking their place entirely.
Ongoing contracts have been in place to continue to enhance and sustain the VH-3Ds through their out of service date, which is coming up fast. One has to wonder if installing new interiors in these helicopters just to have them all pulled from service by mid-2022 makes sense. At the same time, it's largely programmatic funding, and it ensures the aircraft goes out on top.
We have seen similar upgrades to the C-32A fleet that serve as Air Force Two, getting entirely new interiors and upgraded avionics systems. These aircraft will be replaced in the not too distant future, an initiative that is gaining steam now.
Earlier last week, we also saw the VH-92 making some more test landings on the White House's South Lawn. We were first to publish the first photo of such an operation last year and it's good to see it get a lot more coverage this time around. Trump, who is very familiar with owning and operating luxury helicopters, privately toured the VH-92 while it was at the White House, as well.
The VH-92 really looks great in the role and an award for low-rate production of six airframes was just awarded to Sikorsky.
Of course, we couldn't mention the VH-3D's swankier interior without bringing up the Air Force One replacement program that the President himself has a direct hand in. Although the exterior paint, capabilities reduction, and the price of the program have gotten all the publicity, Trump wants to change a number of interior features, as well. We are hearing these include a larger executive suite with a dedicated bed—not pull-out sofa-sleepers—and a larger bathroom and dressing area, among other changes to the working areas. This really isn't an odd ask as these features are now standard on large private jets. I would imagine the interior motif will look similar to what we are seeing with Marine One and his own plane, which is actually pretty tasteful.
Hopefully, we will get some better shots of Marine One's updated interior in the future, but unlike Presidents that came before him, very few if any official high-quality shots of Trump flying on the Presidential helicopter exist in the public domain.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com