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With a new half-billion-dollar contract awarded this week, Sikorsky brought the number of CH-53K King Stallions on order from the U.S. Marine Corps to two dozen.
Naval Air Systems Command, which handles aircraft purchasing for the Marine Corps, signed the $550 million deal for six more 53Ks on Oct. 26. Under the contract, which also includes funding for programmatic and engineering support and rate tooling, Sikorsky will deliver the six aircraft in early 2024.
Sikorsky, which is owned by Lockheed Martin, is now on contract for four lots of aircraft totalling 24 CH-53K King Stallions, which will replace the Marine Corps’ CH-53E as the primary heavy lift utility helicopter and ship-to-shore troop transport.
“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,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Masiello, head of the Marine Corps’ program executive office for air anti-submarine warfare, assault and special mission programs. “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.”
The program is moving toward completion of developmental testing, which culminates in Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in 2021. To that end, the Marine Corps is in the process of accepting the first operational test aircraft configured for initial operational capability. Along with three other 53Ks scheduled for delivery in early 2021, that first operational King Stallion will be used for initial operators and completion of IOT&E.
“This contract award is another giant step forward as we continue to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K program timeline,” said Col. Jack Perrin, program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s heavy lift program office. “As the long-range logistic support backbone for the U.S. Marine Corps, it is essential that we get this aircraft to the fleet as quickly and as affordably as possible.”