Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a division of Lockheed Martin, received a $550 million contract modification for Lot IV low rate initial production and delivery of six CH-53K King Stallion helicopters to U.S. Marine Corps (USMC).
The modification, (N00019-16-C-0048) (P00043), also includes procurement of associated aircraft, programmatic and logistics support, rate tooling and physical configuration audits. The U.S. Department of the Navy (DoN)’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is the contracting activity.
Work will be performed in Stratford, Connecticut (33.17%); Wichita, Kansas (11.51%); Salt Lake City, Utah (7.18%); Hazelwood, Missouri (6.28%); Bridgeport, West Virginia (3.22%); Redmond, Washington (2.12%); Windsor Lock, Connecticut (1.84%); Kent, Washington (1.54%); Fort Worth, Texas (1.44%); Quebec, Canada (1.35%); Cudahy, Wisconsin (1.29%); Rochester, United Kingdom (1.27%); Fort Walton Beach, Florida (1.11%); various locations within the continental U.S. (24.68%); and various locations outside the continental U.S. (2%).
The contract delivers the six aircraft in early 2024 as part of a 200-aircraft program of record for the U.S. Marine Corps. This contract award also includes funding for programmatic and engineering support and rate tooling.
“This contract award is a testament to the government’s confidence in the CH-53K platform. This award shows that we are working hard to make the aircraft more affordable,” said Major General Greg Masiello, program executive office, air ASW, assault and special mission programs. “The capability and affordability of the CH-53K is important to ensure that we provide a valuable addition to the United States Marine Corps and our friends and allies.”
The CH-53K program is moving toward completion of developmental test in support of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in 2021. To that end, the Marine Corps is in the process of accepting the first operational test aircraft configured for Initial Operational Capability. It will be used for initial CH-53K operator and maintenance training in support of the CH-53K, and along with three other aircraft to be delivered early next year, will support the execution of IOT&E.
“This contract award is another giant step forward as we continue to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K program timeline,” said Col. Jack Perrin, program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command Heavy Lift program office. “As the long-range logistic support backbone for the U.S. Marine Corps, it is essential that we get this aircraft to the fleet as quickly and as affordably as possible.”
As the CH-53K moves toward IOT&E in 2021, developmental flight tests are wrapping up. Recently completed testing includes air-to-air refueling while carrying a 27,000 lb. external load, sea trials aboard the USS Wasp, and flight testing in a degraded visual environment in Yuma, Arizona.
Other accomplishments include: maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms), forward flight speed of over 150 knots, 60-degree 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.
Currently there are 24 aircraft on contract with Sikorsky. The CH-53K program has five aircraft on the line at Sikorsky facilities in Connecticut and over two dozen in various stages of production. The program will deliver the first low rate initial production aircraft in September 2021.
Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy-lift cargo helicopter currently being developed by Sikorsky Aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps as a replacement for the current CH-53E Super Stallion. It will be the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military.
The design features three 7,500 shp (5,590 kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider aircraft cabin than previous CH-53 variants.
Designed to lift nearly 14 tons (27,000 lbs/12,247 kg) at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles (203 km), in Navy high/hot environments, the CH-53K is designed to lift triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability with an equivalent logistics shipboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft, and less direct maintenance man hours per flight hour.
The USMC plans to receive 200 CH-53K helicopters at a total cost of $25 billion. The CH-53K will transport Marines, heavy equipment and supplies during ship-to-shore movement in support of amphibious assault and subsequent operations ashore.
Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) testing started in April 2014; flight testing began with the maiden flight on 27 October 2015. In May 2018, the first CH-53K was delivered to the Marine Corps.
The CH-53K King Stallion continues to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K timeline, moving toward completion of developmental test, leading to initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) in 2021 and first fleet deployment in 2023-2024.