The US Navy awarded helicopter maker Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, a $2.7 billion contract to build and deliver 35 additional CH-53K helicopters – the largest procurement to date for this multi-mission aircraft.
“This contract award for 35 CH-53K helicopters stabilises Sikorsky’s nationwide supply base, creates additional production efficiencies, and provides the US Marine Corps with transformative 21st century technologies,” said Paul Lemmo, president of Sikorsky on Aug 24. “Our long-standing partnership led to this best value contract award providing the capability and readiness the Marines need.”
The agreement includes 12 US Marine Corps Lot 7 aircraft, 15 US Marine Corps Lot 8 aircraft, and eight aircraft for Israel, the statement said.
Sikorsky will begin delivering these aircraft in 2026.
This contract significantly advances Sikorsky and the US Navy on the path toward a multi-year agreement and the 200 aircraft Marine Corps Program of Record.
Eight More CH-53K Special Ops Helicopters for Israeli Air Force
This contract award includes eight additional CH-53K helicopters for the Israeli Air Force and follows the initial production announcement in 2022 for the first four aircraft under a US Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.
The multi-mission CH-53K will support Israeli special operations programmes, as well as provide the Israeli Defense Forces with a platform that has the speed, safety, survivability and gross weight capability to support all of its missions, including troop and cargo transport, and search and rescue.
Focus on Full Rate Production
The US Navy declared Full Rate Production for the CH-53K programme in December 2022. This is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years.
Sikorsky is procuring long-lead items and critical materials to support ramp up of CH-53K production in its digital factory.
“Our skilled employees are using digital tools to build more efficiently as these helicopters roll off the production line and into the hands of the Marines,” said Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Marine Corps Systems. “The performance of the CH-53K in the fleet validates its capabilities to provide a strategic advantage and shows that even more is possible with this aircraft.”
The CH-53K operated by Marines in the fleet continue to achieve milestones.
- US Marines exceed 1,000 operational flight hours in the CH-53K.
- CH-53K completed second successful sea trial.
- US Marines transferred supplies from KC-130 into a CH-53K
The CH‑53K is a multi-mission helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other US Department of Defense rotary wing aircraft and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond. The CH-53K can carry a 27,000-pound (12,200 kg) external load over 110 nautical miles (200 km) in high/hot conditions, which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E aircraft in these same conditions.
The CH-53K King Stallion is designed to conduct expeditionary assault transport of armoured vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based centre of operations, critical in the Indo-Pacific region. The CH-53K is a digitally designed, market available aircraft, enabling a range of operations such as humanitarian relief, firefighting and search and rescue. Potential export customer for the CH-53K include Japan. –lm/adj/mhi (Pix: Lockheed Martin)