Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin company) delivered the first fleet CH-53K King STALLION heavy lift helicopter this May to the US Marine Corps (USMC) at New River, North Carolina, where the aircraft is currently being used for the service’s logistics demonstration. Additionally, two aircraft entered the flight test programme this year and one more will be added by 2020. Following the completion of Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E), these aircraft will be formally accepted and delivered to the fleet. Bill Falk, Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program Director, added: “This summer the fifth aircraft started final assembly at Sikorsky’s facility in Stratford, Connecticut and the sixth aircraft is on track to started final assembly in Quarter(Q)4 2018 with deliveries in Q2 and Q3 fiscal year 2020, respectively. Overall, the program remains on track to deliver aircraft to meet the USMC’s preparations and operational deployment starting in 2023-2024.”
From the customer perspective, Greg Kuntz, a Public Affairs Officer in the NAVAIR Program Executive Office (A), added the CH-53K development programme is running concurrently with production: “In the next two years, the program will continue to focus on key test milestones including initial shipboard, live-fire and aerial refueling. IOT&E and Initial Operational Capability are expected following the completion of the developmental test programme.”
Concurrently, Sikorsky and its German industry team partners are competing in the German Air Force “Schwerer Transporthubschrauber” (STH) Programme with the CH-53K. Mr Falk remarked that Sikorsky is in regular communication with other potential international customers including Israel. He concluded: “In Germany, Sikorsky and our experienced German-industry team, remains ready to provide the armed forces with a modern, heavy lift helicopter. We are confident that the Sikorsky CH-53K meets all the German Armed Forces’s (Bundeswehr) requirements and offers unrivalled capability and growth potential over its life-cycle.”
German industry team members include Rheinmetall which signed a strategic agreement with Sikorsky this February to compete for the programme. More on this here.
MONCh readers will recall this April, Boeing and 10 German aerospace companies reached agreements to partner on a range of business opportunities on the H-47 CHINOOK, also a contender in Germany’s STH heavy-lift helicopter competition. Story here.