The US Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Sikorsky a $1.3 billion contract for the construction and delivery of 12 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters for the US Marine Corps.
The low rate initial production (LRIP) Lots 2 and 3 contract was awarded on May 17.
The most powerful helicopter in the Department of Defense, the CH-53K King Stallion is a new-build helicopter that will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility. The CH-53K will provide the Marine Corps with the heavy-lift capability it needs to meet future operational requirements for the vertical lift mission.
“The Marine Corps is very appreciative of the efforts by the Navy and our industry partners to be able to award the LRIP 2/3 contract,” said Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, Deputy Commandant for Aviation. “This is a win for the Marine Corps and will secure the heavy-lift capability we need to meet future operational requirements and support the National Defense Strategy.”
With a designed and demonstrated lift capability of nearly 14 tons (27,000lbs/12,247 kg) at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles (203 km), in navy high/hot environments, the CH-53K lifts triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability.
The CH-53K has proven the ability to lift up to 36,000lbs via the external cargo hook. According to the navy, the CH-53K will have an equivalent logistics shipboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft, and less direct maintenance man hours per flight hour.
“This contract award reflects close cooperation and risk sharing between the Government and industry teams to deliver critical capabilities to the Marine Corps,” said James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. “Working with our industry partners, the team ensured that solutions for technical challenges are incorporated into these production aircraft. This reflects the urgency to ensure we deliver capabilities necessary to support the Marine Corps and the Department of Navy’s mission, while continuing to drive affordability and accountability into the program.”
The helicopter has so far demonstrated high altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms); forward flight speed of over 200 knots; 60 degrees angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500 feet mean sea level (MSL); 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing.