U.S. Department of Defense approves purchase of 200 Sikorsky helicopters to replace its aging fleet
Pentagon on Tuesday has approved $27 billion deal to buy 200 new heavy cargo helicopters for the U.S. Marines from Lockheed Martin, the Department of Defense said.
The Marine Corps will receive the new CH-53Ks from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, by 2029 to replace its fleet of aging CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, considered the backbone of field logistics for the U.S. Marines since the mid-1980s.
“We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed. This incredible positive step function in capability is going to revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical throughput into that battlespace,” said Col Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.
Sikorsky is a division of Lockheed-Martin and is based in Stratford. The CH-53K is designed to lift heavy loads and duties like moving troops and search and rescue.
The first four helicopters are scheduled for delivery next year, with another two to follow, the Defense Department said.
Cost of CH-53Ks Helicopters
The long-expected award for the CH-53K King Stallion will on average cost $87 million each and $105 million including spare parts and certain service contracts, a Defense Department official told Reuters
The approval of the $27 billion program, which includes more than $6 billion in research and development costs, is a major milestone for the largest U.S. defense contractor.
The price for each CH-53K had ballooned from $87.1 million to $122 million per helicopter, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., asserted.
However, US Marine Col. Henry Vanderborght said the cost of each helicopter could go down further based on foreign military sales.
Features of CH-53K King Stallion
- The CH-53K King Stallion offers unmatched heavy lift capability with three times the lift of the CH-53E that it replaces.
- With more than triple the payload capability and a 12-inch wider internal cabin compared to the predecessor, CH-53K provides extraordinary mission flexibility and system efficiency.
- CH-53K include advanced stability augmentation, flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold, automated approach to a stabilized hover, position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments.
- CH-53K King Stallion has improved reliability and maintainability that exceeds 89% mission reliability with a smaller shipboard logistics footprint than the legacy CH-53E.