Spirit AeroSystems announced it has successfully delivered the fifth System Demonstration Test Article (SDTA) CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter fuselage for the U.S. Marine Corps from Spirit’s Wichita, Kan., facility.
Major assembly on the fuselage for SDTA six, the final SDTA helicopter, is underway. Spirit is responsible for the assembly of the entire cockpit and cabin and delivering the complete fuselage to Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company.
“The Spirit team is proud to support the CH-53K King Stallion program and is pleased to deliver the 5th SDTA fuselage unit to Sikorsky,” said Krisstie Kondrotis, Spirit AeroSystems senior vice president of Defense programs. “This lightweight composite fuselage structure will support the Marine Corps requirement of much-needed additional heavy-lift capability. We look forward to being a major contributor to this program and delivering on our commitments for many years to come.”
Spirit is responsible for the composite cockpit and cabin structure with a separately attached tail section. The lightweight structures support the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter’s capability of conducting unrefueled missions carrying 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles in high/hot conditions, which is triple the load-carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion.
Spirit is one of the world’s leaders in designing and building complex composite structures and has already delivered 12 units including the ground test vehicles. The next unit is already in major assembly at Spirit with low rate initial production starting later this year.
“Now as we head into production of the final SDTA unit we can focus on continuous deliveries to our customer and getting this much-needed capability into the hands of the warfighters as quickly as possible,” said Jeff Jessop, director of military programs for Spirit.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.
Spirit employs about 15,000 people worldwide designing and building complex aerostructures for the world’s most recognizable airplanes. The company has a proven track record of developing commercial best practices and adapting them for use on defense programs. Spirit AeroSystems will join the CH-53K team at the Berlin Air Show April 25-27 for the King Stallion’s international debut.