Sept 2, 2017: Lockheed Martin has received from Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract to build two production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. This contract follows the April 4, 2017, Milestone C decision by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approving LRIP production.
"Gaining the US Marine Corps approval to enter into production and the award of the first contract are milestones made possible by the tremendous achievements of the joint Sikorsky, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and US Marine Corps team," said Mike Torok, vice president, CH-53K programs. "This is what we have been striving for - to deliver this amazing capability to the US Marine Corps."
Under the $303,974,406 million contract, US Marine Corps will take delivery of two production aircraft from Sikorsky in 2020 along with spares and logistical support. Aircraft assembly will take place at Sikorsky's headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.
"We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed. This incredible capability will revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical through put into that battlespace. I could not be prouder of our government-contractor team for making this happen," said Col Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command's Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.
The CH-53K King Stallion provides matchless capability with three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion. The helicopter cabin gives increased payload capacity to internally load 463L cargo pallets, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) or a European Fenneck armored personnel carrier while still leaving the troop seats installed. The CH-53K's external hook system offers the capability to lift three independent external loads at the same time. These true heavy lift internal and external cargo enhancements give the Marine Corps better mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force or in delivering humanitarian assistance or disaster relief to those in need.
The King Stallion also brings improved safety features for the warfighter. Full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management reduce pilot workload enabling the crew to focus on mission execution. Features include advanced stability augmentation, flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold, automated approach to a stabilised hover, position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments, and tactile cueing. These features allow the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand while operating in degraded environments.