The USN has ordered a further six CH-53K KING STALLION helicopters from Sikorsky, bringing the total now under contract to 24 (of a programme total of 200), the company announced on 28 October.
Deliveries against the new order – covering low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 4 and intended to support USMC operations – will begin in January 2024. Meanwhile the first of the five aircraft currently on the production line will be delivered by September 2021. Sikorsky and its suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp up production required for the CH-53K programme. For example, for the first time, newly-installed 10t cranes lifted a 12,000lb gearbox into a CH-53K production aircraft.
“The production of this CH-53K helicopter represents a new era in capabilities, technologies, safety and mission flexibility for the US Marine Corps. Sikorsky is committed to supporting the Marine Corps to maximise the benefits of this all-new helicopter,” commented Bill Falk, Sikorsky CH-53K Programme Director. “Pilots are already training on state-of-the-art flight training devices to prepare in a safe, cost-effective manner for operational deployment,” he added.
“This contract award is a testament to the government's confidence in the CH-53K platform. This award shows that we are working hard to make the aircraft more affordable,” declared Maj Gen Greg Masiello, Programme Executive Office, Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programmes. “The capability and affordability of the CH-53K is important to ensure that we provide a valuable addition to the United States Marine Corps and our friends and allies.”