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CH-53K in Low Rate Initial Production


Response to German Government Interest in the Model

MONS Correspondent Marty Kauchak files this end-of-the-day report from the Modern Day Marine Exposition at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

The US Marine Corps’ new CH-53K programme is achieving a number of acquisition milestones. At the same time, “K” model prime contractor Sikorsky and its parent company Lockheed Martin, are responding to Government of Germany interest in the new model.      

As this year’s Modern Day Marine delegates were gathering, the programme’s Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EDM) aircraft had logged more than 500 flight hours. EDM aircraft 1, 2, 3 continue flight testing at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. EDM 4 completed a successful ferry flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Pax), Maryland this 30 June as part of the planned transition of flight test programme to Pax. “The remaining three EDM aircraft are planned to transition to Pax by mid-2018,” Melissa Chadwick, Programme Spokesperson at Lockheed Martin, said.

Further, the CH-53K had been approved for a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract. There are a number of concurrent activities occurring in this phase. Four System Development Test Aircraft (SDTA) are in final assembly in the Sikorsky Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility in West Palm Beach. Two additional SDTA aircraft are under contract and will be the first to be assembled in the Stratford, Connecticut facility, starting in 2018. Mrs. Chadwick continued: “Long lead components for LRIP Lot 1 (supporting two aircraft) and LRIP Lot 2 (supporting four aircraft), are also funded and getting underway at our suppliers’ locations. The LRIP Lot 1 for two CH-53K aircraft (and associated engineering and integrated logistics support, spares and Peculiar Support Equipment) was awarded on 31 August 2017.”

Chadwick acknowledged the German government has requested CH-53K pricing and availability from the US Government. “Sikorsky has the flexibility to respond to any German acquisition strategy in Foreign Military Sale or Direct Commercial Sale. There has been and continues to be interest in Europe and in other areas, but as of now, the potential German programme remains the most mature,” the Spokesperson added. 

Major programme milestones planned through the end of calendar year 2018 include: the three remaining EDM aircraft are planned to transition to Pax by mid-2018; first CH-53K SDTA aircraft delivery; the production line in Stratford, Connecticut will be up and running in early 2018 to begin building two additional SDTA aircraft; and the LRIP Lot 2 contract award.

CH-53K industry team suppliers and other life cycle support providers include:
GE – engines; Spirit Aerosystems – cockpit & cabin; Aurora – main rotor pylon; GKN – fuselage aft transition; Albany Engineered Composites – sponsons & tail rotor pylon; Eaton – hydraulics & fuel; Triumph Aerospace Systems – blade fold, dampers & oil coolers; UTC Aerospace Systems – flight control computer, auxiliary power unit, environmental control system, usage monitoring system, servos; BAE Systems – seats, active inceptors, armor; Rockwell Collins – avionics management system; Goodrich – integrated vehicle health management system

Marty Kauchak

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