Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company (NYSE: LMT), delivered the third Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) CH-53K helicopter ahead of contract schedule to the U.S. Marine Corps. This aircraft, built in Sikorsky’s digital factory, is the first CH-53K from the Lot 2 LRIP contract awarded by the U.S. Navy in 2019, and the seventh overall delivered to the fleet. The CH?53K’s heavy-lift capabilities exceed all other U.S. Department of Defense rotary wing platforms and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond. This CH-53K heavy lift helicopter joins the six in operation at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
The Marines recently declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and have been flying and supporting the CH-53K in the fleet environment demonstrating the aircraft is on track to deploy on schedule in 2024. The aircraft have flown more than 3,000 flight hours showcasing the CH?53K’s performance in a range of mission scenarios and challenging environments. The CH-53K will further support the U.S. Marine Corps in its mission to conduct expeditionary heavy lift assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations, critical in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This Connecticut-built CH-53K aircraft is a credit to our employees and their skills embracing digital tools and other advanced technologies to continue the Sikorsky legacy of building modern, safe, reliable rotorcraft. Our nationwide supply chain supports the active production line as we prepare to deliver two more CH-53K helicopters later this year. We look forward to continuing our progress toward next year’s full rate production decision,” said Bill Falk, Director, Sikorsky CH-53K program.
Earlier this year Sikorsky secured a contract to build 12 CH-53K heavy lift helicopters for Israel under a U.S. Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement. The signed letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) between the U.S. Government and Israel states first deliveries of the baseline aircraft are planned for 2025. The CH-53K helicopters will replace the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fleet of modified CH-53D Yasur helicopters, which have been in Israel’s inventory for over 50 years. The all-new CH-53K delivers modern state-of-the-art capabilities that result in improved survivability, safety, and reduced aircrew workload over its predecessor, making it the perfect fit for the demanding IAF mission.
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy-lift cargo helicopter designed and produced by Sikorsky Aircraft. The King Stallion is an evolution of the long running CH-53 series of helicopters which have been in continuous service since 1966, and features three uprated 7,500 shp (5,590 kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider aircraft cabin than its predecessors. It is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military. The CH-53K helicopter was born in a digital environment, and now its digital thread connects design, manufacturing, training, and sustainment teams. This network is based on the helicopter’s single, continuous data thread that stays consistent from initial design all the way through sustainment.
Sikorsky Aircraft is an American aircraft manufacturer based in Stratford, Connecticut. It was established by famed aviator Igor Sikorsky in 1923 and was among the first companies to manufacture helicopters for civilian and military use. Previously owned by United Technologies Corporation, in November 2015 Sikorsky was sold to Lockheed Martin. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services.