Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky has been tasked with delivering six CH-53K King Stallion helicopters for the US Navy.
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The US Navy has awarded a new contract to Sikorsky, a division of global defence prime Lockheed Martin, for the delivery of six additional production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters — used to support the Marine Corps’ expeditionary heavy-lift assault transport missions. of armoured vehicles, equipment and personnel.
Specifically, the helicopters will be used to transport armoured vehicles, equipment and personnel for deep inland distributed operations from a sea-based centre of operations.
The six helicopters are set to increase the CH-53K production aircraft now under contract to 24, and form part of 200 aircraft Program of Record for the US Marine Corps.
Under the terms of Sikorsky’s latest contract — known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 4 — the Lockheed subsidiary is expected to commence deliveries of the six aircraft in January 2024.
"This contract award is a testament to the government's confidence in the CH-53K platform,” Major General Greg Masiello, program executive office, air ASW, assault and special mission programs, said.
“This award shows that we are working hard to make the aircraft more affordable.
"The capability and affordability of the CH-53K is important to ensure that we provide a valuable addition to the United States Marine Corps and our friends and allies."
The CH-53K program has five aircraft on the line at Sikorsky facilities in Connecticut and over two dozen in various stages of production, with the program to deliver the first low rate initial production aircraft in September 2021.
According to Bill Falk, Sikorsky CH-53K program director, the company and its suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp up production required for the CH-53K program, which includes the installation of 10-ton cranes that lifted a 5,443-kilogram gearbox into a CH-53K production aircraft.
"The production of this CH-53K helicopter represents a new era in capabilities, technologies, safety and mission flexibility for the US Marine Corps,” he said.
“Sikorsky is committed to supporting the Marine Corps to maximise the benefits of this all new helicopter.
"Pilots are already training on state-of-the art flight training devices to prepare in a safe, cost-effective manner for operational deployment.”
Sikorsky added that the CH-53K is also nearing the conclusion of the developmental flight test events in preparation for initial operational test and evaluation, after flying more than 2,000 flight hours validating the aircraft's performance on a ship and in both hot and cold environments.