Sikorsky makes preparations to build six new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and avionics for U.S. Marines

The helicopter can lift more than 18 tons, and will fly armored vehicles, equipment, and Marines deep inland from amphibious assault ships offshore.

Ch 53 K Helicopter 13 Aug 2019

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., are preparing to build six new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and integrated avionics systems for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $107.4 million order announced Monday.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, to procure long-lead items for six CH-53K low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 4 helicopters.

Long-lead items either are difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. Contracts to build the actual helicopters will come later.

The CH-53K King Stallion is a large heavy-lift cargo helicopter designed to replace the Marine Corps fleet of CH-53E heavy-lift helicopters to help move Marines and their equipment from ships offshore onto attack beaches. The CH-53K is a general redesign of the CH-53E.

Related: Sikorsky to acquire and integrate data storage and electronic warfare systems to upgrade CH-53K helicopter

Last May Sikorsky won a $1.13 billion order to build 12 new CH-53K helicopters and avionics.

The CH-53K sea-based, long range, helicopter is designed to provide three times the lift capability of its predecessor. The CH-53K will conduct expeditionary heavy-lift transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations, Sikorsky officials say. It can lift more than 18 tons.

The CH-53K will have new engines and cockpit avionics layout, and will have more than twice the lift capacity and combat radius of the CH-53E. A wider cargo hold to enable the new aircraft to carry a light combat vehicle internally, and will have new composite rotor blades. It will use the General Electric GE38-1B engine.

It can operate at high altitudes, hot temperatures, and in degraded visual conditions; sling load 36,000 pounds; can fly faster than 200 knots; can make 60-degree-angle bank turns; can climb to 18,500 feet above sea level; conduct 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; and can auto-jettison external loads, and survive gunfire.

Related: King Stallion: the future of U.S. Marine Corps heavy lift helicopters for airborne resupply

The CH-53K first flew in late 2015, and the helicopter was introduced to Marine Corps squadrons in 2018. The Marines plan to buy 227 CH-53K helicopters for about $23.3 billion.

Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is providing the CH-53K's avionics management system; Sanmina-SCI Corp. in San Jose, Calif., is providing the new helicopter's intercommunications System; and Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., is providing the CH-53 cockpit and cabin. Other major subcontractors are GKN Aerospace in Redditch, England; and Onboard Systems International in Vancouver, Wash.

Collins Aerospace is providing the company's Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) for the CH-53K. The CAAS integrates several communications, navigation and mission subsystems through its Flight2 system. It uses common reusable processing elements in an open-systems architecture based on commercial standards.

Related: Eaton to supply CH-53K helicopter cockpit control panels, dimming controllers

The Collins Aerospace CAAS avionics initially was developed for the Special Operations Forces' MH-47 and MH-60 helicopter fleets. In addition to the CH-53K, CAAS avionics also has been selected for the CH-47F, MH-60T, MH-65E, and VH-60N aircraft.

The Sanmina-SCI FireComm Intercommunications Control System for the CH-53K uses digital processing techniques and controls. Its system architecture uses the MIL-STD-1553 avionics data bus; the IEEE 1394b data bus; 10/100 Base-T Ethernet; and TIA/EIA-485 interface ports.

On this order Sikorsky will do the work in Stratford, Conn., and should be finished by August 2020. For more information contact Sikorsky Aircraft online at www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/capabilities/sikorsky.html, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.

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