Written By John Keller
Engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, Connecticut are preparing to build seven new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and integrated avionics systems for the US Marine Corps under terms of a (US) $125.4 million order.
Officials of the US Naval Air Systems Command have asked Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, to procure long-lead items for seven CH-53K low-rate initial productions (LRIP) lot 5 helicopters.
Long-lead items are sometimes difficult and time-consuming to obtain and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. Contracts to build the actual helicopters will come later.
The CH-53K King Stallion is a large heavy-lift cargo helicopter designed to replace the Marine Corps fleet of CH-53E heavy-lift helicopters to help move Marines and their equipment from ships offshore onto attack beaches. The CH-53K is a general redesign of the CH-53E.
The CH-53K sea-based, long-range, helicopter is designed to provide three times with the lift capability of its predecessor.
The CH-53K will conduct expeditionary heavy-lift transport of armoured vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based centre of operations, Sikorsky officials said. It can lift more than 18 tons.
The CH-53K will have a new engine and cockpit avionics layout and will have more than twice the lift capacity and combat radius of the CH-53E.
It will use the General Electric GE38-1B engine. It can operate at high altitudes, hot temperatures, and in degraded visual conditions.
The CH-53K first flew in late 2015, and the helicopter was introduced to Marine Corps squadrons in 2018. The Marines plan to buy 227 CH-53K helicopters for about $23.3 billion.
On this order, Sikorsky will do the work in Connecticut and should be finished by August 2021.
For more information contact Sikorsky Aircraft online at www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/capabilities/sikorsky.html or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil