$1.13 Billion for 12 Aircraft for Delivery From 2022
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is to build 12 CH-53K KING STALLION helicopters for the US Navy (USN) under a new $1.13 billion (€1.01 billion) order, which authorises low rate initial production (LRIP) lots 2 and 3 against the programme of record requirement for 200 aircraft. Deliveries will begin in 2022 and the contract includes the provision of spares and logistical support.
The KING STALLION is the only sea-based, long-range, heavy-lift helicopter in production and will immediately provide three times the lift capability of its predecessor. It will conduct expeditionary heavy-lift transport of armoured vehicles, equipment and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based centre of operations. The new CH-53K will have heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other US Department of Defense (DoD) rotary-wing platforms and it is the only heavy lifter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond.
“Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to ramp up CH-53K production to support deployment of this modern, safe and reliable aircraft in 2023-2024,” commented Sikorsky Program Director Bill Falk. “This contract demonstrates the US Marine Corps’ confidence in Sikorsky to expand production of this technologically advanced heavy lift helicopter.”
Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, and their suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp up production requirements for the CH-53K programme. For example, over eight new titanium machining centres have been installed, a new final test assembly with multi-floor ergonomic work platforms designed and implemented, 10t cranes installed and 3D work instructions made available to the factory floor.
“We have transformed our factory for the future and implemented a model for all future helicopter programmes,” Falk observed. “Additionally, our engineers have implemented the latest technologies such as manufacturing simulation and 3D laser inspection technology. These investments in systems, personnel, and our facilities have elevated Sikorsky’s manufacturing technology and capabilities to meet [the] production requirements of the CH-53K for domestic and international customers.“
The all-new CH-53K, designed to be intelligent, reliable, low-maintenance and survivable in the most difficult conditions, has flown more than 1,400 test hours and has met all the outer reaches of the test envelope. The KING STALLION is currently undergoing a rigorous test programme to ensure militaries can safely move troops and equipment at higher altitudes, quicker and more effectively than ever.
The CH-53K, which has proven it can lift more than 36,000lbs, is the most powerful heavy lift helicopter ever built in the United States. Its technologically advanced design will meet future requirements for decades to come, enabling missions like humanitarian aid, troop and equipment transport, casualty evacuation, support of special operations forces, and combat search and rescue.
Accomplishments to date include: high altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000lbs (16,329 kg); forward flight speed of over 200 kts; 60° angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500ft; 12° slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing.