Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, has awarded Lockheed Martin a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract to build two production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.
This contract follows the April 4, 2017, Milestone C decision by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approving LRIP production.
“Gaining the U.S. Marine Corps approval to enter into production and the award of the first contract are milestones made possible by the tremendous achievements of the joint Sikorsky, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and U.S. Marine Corps team,” said Dr. Mike Torok, vice president, CH-53K programs.
(The CH-53K King Stallion Program has successfully completed its first extended “cross country” flight from Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD on June 29, 2017. This is the first of several such flights that will occur during 2017 & 2018 as the King Stallion flight test program transitions to the flight test facilities at Patuxent River. Courtesy of Lockheed Martin and YouTube)
“This is what we have been striving for – to deliver this amazing capability to the U.S. Marine Corps,” added Torok.
Under the $303,974,406 million contract, Sikorsky will deliver two production aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps in 2020 along with spares and logistical support.
(The CH-53K King Stallion helicopter achieved its first flight with an external load at our Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, successfully carrying a 12,000-pound external load. Courtesy of Lockheed Martin and YouTube)
Aircraft assembly will take place at Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.
The CH-53K King Stallion advances Sikorsky’s 50 years of manufacturing and operational success with its CH-53A, CH-53D/G, and CH-53E predecessors.
Built to thrive on the modern battlefield, including shipboard operations, the CH-53K aircraft is designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most austere and remote forward operating bases.
The CH-53K helicopter has been designed and built to the exacting standards of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and will serve as its critical land and sea based logistics connector.
The new heavy lifter will allow the U.S. Marine Corps and international militaries to move troops and equipment from ship to shore, and to higher altitude terrain, more quickly and effectively than ever before.
“We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed,” said Col Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.
“This incredible capability will revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical through put into that battlespace.”
“I could not be prouder of our government-contractor team for making this happen.”
The CH-53K King Stallion provides unmatched capability with three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion.
The helicopter cabin, a full foot wider, gives increased payload capacity to internally load 463L cargo pallets, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) or a European Fenneck armored personnel carrier while still leaving the troop seats installed.
The CH-53K’s external hook system provides the capability to lift three independent external loads simultaneously.
(Built to thrive on the modern battlefield, including shipboard operations, the CH-53K King Stallion is designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most austere and remote forward operating bases. Courtesy of Lockheed Martin and YouTube)
These true heavy lift internal and external cargo improvements give the Marine Corps tremendous mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force or in delivering humanitarian assistance or disaster relief to those in need.
The King Stallion also brings enhanced safety features for the warfighter.
Full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management reduce pilot workload enabling the crew to focus on mission execution.
- Advanced stability augmentation
- Flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold
- Automated approach to a stabilized hover
- Position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments, and
- Tactile cueing
These features permit the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand while operating in degraded environments.
The CH-53K’s internal health monitoring systems with fault detection/fault isolation, coupled with a digital aviation logistics maintenance system that interfaces with the Fleet Common Operating Environment for fleet management, provides improved combat readiness for the Marine Corps.
The U.S. Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.