Sikorsky lands $2.7 billion contract for CH-53K helicopters, eight for Israel and 27 for USMC
The agreement for 35 helicopters is for 12 USMC Lot 7 aircraft, 15 USMC Lot 8 aircraft, and the remainder for Israel. This contract significantly advances Sikorsky and the USN on the path toward a multi-year agreement and the 200-aircraft marine corps programme of record.
The multi-mission CH-53K will support Israeli special operations missions, as well as provide the Israel Defense Forces with a platform to support major operations, including troop and cargo transport, and search and rescue.
The USN declared Full Rate Production for the CH-53K programme in December 2022 and it is planned to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years.
The USMC CH-53K has passed several milestones such as exceeding 1,000 operational flight hours, completing a second successful sea trial and transferring supplies from a KC-130 transport aircraft into a CH-53K.
The CH-53K is designed to lift 12,000kg over a mission radius of 200km in hot-and-high environments – three times the baseline lift capability of the predecessor CH-53E.
The CH-53K entered production in 2017 after the aircraft accumulated more than 450 test flight hours. In March 2018, the CH-53K completed an external lift of a 16,329kg payload at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center, achieving a maximum weight on the single centre point cargo hook.
Shephard Defence Insight notes that he first CH-53K was delivered to Marine Corps Air Station New River on 16 May 2018. The first aircraft, System Demonstration Test Article 3 was the first aircraft formally delivered to the USMC.
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