Lockheed Martin aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky has been engaged to build 35 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters for the US Marines.
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The US$2.7 billion US Navy contract is the largest procurement to date for the multi-mission heavy lift helicopter, as the helicopters go into service at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
The multi-year agreement includes 12 US Marine Corps Lot 7 aircraft, 15 US Marine Corps Lot 8 aircraft, and eight aircraft for the Israeli Air Force with delivery in 2026.
“This contract award for 35 CH-53K helicopters stabilises Sikorsky’s nationwide supply base, creates additional production efficiencies, and provides the US Marine Corps with transformative 21st century technologies,” said Sikorsky president Paul Lemmo.
“Our longstanding partnership led to this best value contract award providing the capability and readiness the Marines need.”
The eight additional CH-53K helicopters will support Israeli special operations programs, following an initial production announcement in 2022 for four aircraft under a US Navy foreign military sales agreement.
“Our skilled employees are using digital tools to build more efficiently as these helicopters roll off the production line and into the hands of the Marines,” Sikorsky Marine Corps Systems vice-president Dana Fiatarone said.
“The performance of the CH-53K in the fleet validates its capabilities to provide a strategic advantage and shows that even more is possible with this aircraft.”
US Marines have exceeded 1,000 operational flight hours in the CH-53K and the US Navy has declared full rate production for the CH-53K program in December 2022, which is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the future.