Spirit AeroSystems delivered the final SDTA (System Demonstration Test Article) CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter fuselage structure to Sikorsky, on June 8, 2018.
Spirit is responsible for building the composite cockpit and cabin, attaching a separately provided tail section, and delivery of the entire fuselage to Sikorsky Helicopter, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. The helicopter will be finally delivered to the U.S Marine Corps (USMC).
Sikorsky delivered the first CH-53K King Stallion helicopter to the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) on May 16 this year. This first helicopter is stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
This aircraft was the first of an expected 200 helicopters for the Marine Corps’ fleet. Sikorsky expects to deliver its second CH-53K helicopter to the USMC in early 2019.
The CH-53K is the new build replacement for the Marine Corps’ aging CH-53E Super Stallion fleet. The CH-53E first flew in 1974 and entered service with the USMC in 1981.
The CH-53K test program recently completed the following milestones: 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.
Sikorsky is preparing its manufacturing facility in Stratford, Connecticut, to house CH-53K production beginning this summer.
The heavy lift helicopter made its international debut and showcased its maneuverability and advanced fly-by-wire technology during demonstration flights at the recent ILA Berlin Air Show in Berlin, Germany.