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Sikorsky Heavily Promoting Germany’s Future Heavy Lift Helicopter

MTU Aero Engines & Rheinmetall as German partners

MTU Aero Engines and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, jointly entered into an agreement for MTU to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of German Air Force (Luftwaffe) engines. The two companies made it public they were going to compete together last year at the Helicopter Symposium in Hammelburg/Germany. Earlier this year, Rheinmetall and Sikorsky signed a strategic teaming agreement for competing in the Luftwaffe’s Heavy Lift Helicopter (STH) programme (MONS story here).

Germany’s Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) approved plans to buy 45-60 new heavy-lift helicopters, kicking off a competition between Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin (CH-53K) and Boeing (CH-47 CHINOOK) for the contract worth nearly €4 billion. The defense ministry expects to issue a request for information in the second half of 2018 after completing a fleet capability study, with a contract award seen in mid-2020. Initial deliveries would begin in 2023, replacing Germany’s existing fleet of CH-53G aircraft.

Sikorsky, MTU Aero Engines and GE Aviation have been partnering on the CH-53K for the US Marine Corps (USMC) since its inception. This heavy lift helicopter is powered by three GE Aviation T408-GE-400 turboshaft engines. MTU developed and is now in production for the power turbine of the T408. In addition to the German work share of 18% in the OEM engine programme, MTU will support MRO for these next generation engines of the CH-53K helicopter, will the Luftwaffe opt for it. When compared with its predecessor, the legacy T64 engine, the T408 provides 57% more power, 18% better specific fuel consumption and has 63% fewer parts to minimise maintenance cost.

The CH-53K and its engine were developed to support the heavy-lift requirements of the 21st century and meet the highest security standards. Demonstrating reliability, unprecedented performance and impressive power reserves, the T408 engines ensure that missions can be safely carried out even in the harshest operating environments,” Klaus Günther, Senior Vice President, Defense Programs at MTU, points out. “With its triple redundant fly-by-wire flight control system, advanced corrosion-resistant composites and unparalleled power, the helicopter can fly missions in extreme temperature conditions at an altitude of up to 3,000 meters. “By acquiring the CH-53K Germany’s military would receive a highly-advanced system that is optimally designed for the missions of the coming decades.”

According to Nathalie Previte, Sikorsky Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, the company looks forward to long and fruitful partnerships with German industry, while Boeing is keeping its options open in Germany until it receives the government’s specific requirements.

Sikorsky is building 200 CH-53K heavy lift helicopters for the USMC, which will be delivered to the customer along with 800 T408 engines. MTU Aero Engines is developing and manufacturing the three-stage power turbine capable of producing 7,378-rated shaft horse-power (SLS 59 deg), plus the exhaust casing and output shaft.


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