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US Navy CH-53K King Stallion Full-Rate Production Announced

Sikorsky employees building CH-53K aircraft utilising 3-D work instructions, new titanium machining centres with multi-floor ergonomic platforms [© Lockheed Martin]

Lockheed Martin has announced the US Navy has today approved full-rate production for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter.

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Press Release, Stratford CT, 27 December 2022: The US Navy today declared full rate production of the Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter, a decision that is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is procuring long-lead items and critical materials to support building full rate production CH-53K helicopters in its digital factory.

“Ramping up production of the most technologically advanced helicopter in the world allows the US Marine Corps to build out its CH-53K King Stallion fleet and support mission success,” said Bill Falk, director of the Sikorsky CH-53K program. “This production authorisation stabilises Sikorsky’s domestic supply chain and is a testament to our enduring partnership with the Marine Corps.”

Sikorsky CH-53K with a 27,000-lb external load demonstrating its ability to enable heavy-lift transport from sea to shore [© Sikorsky]

Milestone Benefits More Than 200 CH-53K Suppliers Nationwide: This full-rate production decision instils confidence in the diverse network of more than 200 CH-53K suppliers across 35 states. The Marine Corps’ commitment to the CH-53K will allow suppliers to purchase in bulk, creating efficiencies and driving down overall costs for the US military and international allies.

The Marine Corps’ approved acquisition objective is 200 aircraft. The US Marine Corps declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the CH-53K helicopter in April 2022, validating the platform’s operational readiness to forward deploy Marines and equipment across the globe.

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 external load over 110 nautical miles in high/hot conditions, which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E aircraft.

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, fire-fighting and search and rescue.

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