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Obama Orders Review of Helicopter Project

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has ordered a review of plans to replace the fleet of decades-old presidential helicopters at a cost of about $11 billion.

Mr. Obama made the announcement Monday when his one-time presidential rival, Arizona Senator John McCain, questioned the need for the costly program when the government is trying to curb spending.

The president responded that he thinks his current helicopter seems "perfectly adequate," and he said the costly military program is "an example of the procurement process gone amok."

The exchange came at the close of a White House summit on fiscal responsibility.

During the previous administration of George W. Bush, U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin was contracted to build 28 helicopters for presidential use at a cost of $6 billion. The cost of the project has soared to $11.2 billion.

The military notified lawmakers last month that the project is significantly over budget.

Lockheed says it is confident it can deliver the required number of helicopters, in compliance with the specifications that come from an ongoing review.

After expressing his satisfaction with his current helicopter, Mr. Obama quipped Monday, "I've never had a helicopter before, you know? Maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.