Sikorsky prepares to build seven new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and avionics for the Marine Corps

Feb. 14, 2018
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., are preparing to build seven new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and integrated avionics systems for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $126.5 million order announced Tuesday.
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., are preparing to build seven new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and integrated avionics systems for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $126.5 million order announced Tuesday.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, to buy long-lead items for the low-rate initial production of seven Lot III CH-53K helicopters.

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.

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 seven CH-53K helicopters will come later.

Related: Raytheon to upgrade cockpit display avionics in U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E heavy-lift helicopters

The CH-53K will have new engines and cockpit 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.

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

Rockwell Collins 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.

Rockwell Collins 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: Sikorsky to build two new Marine Corps CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and avionics in $304 million deal

The Rockwell Collins 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 January 2019. For more information contact Sikorsky Aircraft online at https://lockheedmartin.com/us/what-we-do/aerospace-defense/sikorsky.html, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.

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About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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