Above: Fourth YCH-53K King Stallion prototype 168781 ‘04’ (EDM-4) lifts a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, during a capability demonstration by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two-One (HX-21) ‘Blackjack’ on January 18, 2018. A contract for a further 12 CH-53Ks for the US Marine Corps has been awarded to Sikorsky. US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl Shannon Doherty
US NAVAL Air Systems Command has awarded Sikorsky a $1,126,216,626 contract for manufacture of 12 CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters for the US Marine Corps. The deal, awarded on May 17, is a modification to previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-firm, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract and covers Lot II and Lot III low-rate initial production, including programmatic support, logistics support, and peculiar support equipment. Work is expected to be completed in December 2023. Financing for the contract is split between $509,053,739 of Fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds and $617,162,887 from 2019 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds.
Sikorsky will begin deliveries of these 12 helicopters in 2022. The programme of record for the CH-53K envisages acquisition of 200 CH-53Ks for the US Marine Corps. The manufacturer says that it remains committed to continuing to reduce costs over the life of the programme.
The company says that the all-new CH-53K has flown more than 1,400 test hours and has met all the outer reaches of the test envelope. The King Stallion is in the midst of a rigorous test programme to ensure militaries can safely move troops and equipment at higher altitudes, quicker and more effectively than ever. Accomplishments to date include: high altitude, hot temperature and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000lbs (16,329kg); forward flight speed of over 200kts; 60° angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500ft mean sea level (MSL); 12° slope landings and take-offs; external load auto-jettison and gunfire testing.