Lockheed Martin’s VH-71 presidential helicopter program for the Navy could derail. The Wall Street Journal reports (requires subscription) that Pentagon acquisition czar John Young is considering alternatives to the current two-phased VH-71 acquisition plan that is reportedly running into engineering challenges and facing large cost spikes. Already the Navy has stopped work on the second phase of the program for 23 of the 28 helicopters, which are slated to be more sophisticated than the first five, citing budget issues, the newspaper said. The timing could not be worse for the Bethesda-Md.-based company since it is in the midst of trying to convince the Air Force that its US101 design, the platform upon which the VH-71 is also based, is the best choice to be USAF’s next-generation combat search and rescue helicopter. Past performance is one of the top three selection criteria in the Air Force’s evaluation, with more emphasis placed on it than cost/price. Lockheed Martin had complained after the initial CSAR-X round that USAF used old data to consider its VH-71 performance. All three CSAR-X competitors—Lockheed, Boeing, and Sikorsky—on Jan. 7 handed revised proposals. The Air Force expects to pick the winning design around midyear. USAF accepted the new bids from the three competitors in order to resolve a standing legal impasse going back to November 2006 when Boeing won the original CSAR-X competition. Ironically, it now remains to be seen if the current situation with VH-71 will end up hurting the US101’s chances in the CSAR-X contest.