Helicopters

Sikorsky Secures Contract To Build 12 LRIP CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters

The CH-53K is the only aircraft able to provide the USMC with the heavy-lift capability it needs to meet future operational requirements for the vertical lift mission.

On May 17, 2019 the Naval Air Systems Command awarded a $1.3 billion Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lots 2 and 3 contract for 12 aircraft to Sikorsky for the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion.

“The Marine Corps is very appreciative of the efforts by the Navy and our industry partners to be able to award the LRIP 2/3 contract,” said Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, Deputy Commandant for Aviation. “This is a win for the Marine Corps and will secure the heavy-lift capability we need to meet future operational requirements and support the National Defense Strategy.  I’m very confident in the success of the CH-53K program and look forward to fielding this critical capability.”

The most powerful helicopter in the Department of Defense, the CH-53K King Stallion is a new-build helicopter that will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility using proven and mature technologies. The CH-53K is the only aircraft able to provide the USMC with the heavy-lift capability it needs to meet future operational requirements for the vertical lift mission.

 “This contract award reflects close cooperation and risk sharing between the Government and industry teams to deliver critical capabilities to the Marine Corps,” said James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition.  “Working with our industry partners, the team ensured that solutions for technical challenges are incorporated into these production aircraft. This reflects the urgency to ensure we deliver capabilities necessary to support the Marine Corps and the Department of Navy’s mission, while continuing to drive affordability and accountability into the program.”

Designed and demonstrated the lift capability of nearly 14 tons (27,000lbs/12,247 kg) at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles (203 km), in Navy high/hot environments, the CH-53K lifts triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability. The CH-53K has proven the ability to lift up to 36,000lbs via the external cargo hook. The CH-53K will have an equivalent logistics shipboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft, and less direct maintenance man hours per flight hour. The combination of unmatched heavy-lift and range, fly-by-wire flight controls, with an advanced, integrated communications suite will provide the Marine Corps with the operational flexibility necessary to gain and, more importantly, sustain a tactical edge on the battlefield.

Photo credit: Cpl. Hailey D. Clay / U.S. Marine Corps

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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