Israel to buy four Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and avionics under terms of a $372 million order

Feb. 17, 2022
The CH-53K, compared to its predecessor, has new engines and cockpit avionics, and more than twice the lift capacity and combat radius of the CH-53E.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., will build four CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and integrated avionics systems for the government of Israel under terms of a $372 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 deliver four low rate initial production, Lot 6, CH-53K helicopters and logistical support to the Israeli military.

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

The Israeli and U.S. governments reached an agreement for Israel to buy the Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter last December. The CH-53K is a general redesign of the CH-53E.

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

The CH-53K sea-based, long range, helicopter is designed to provide three times the lift capability of its predecessor. The CH-53K is designed to 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, compared to its predecessor, has new engines and cockpit avionics. It has more than twice the lift capacity and combat radius of the CH-53E. The helicopter has a wider cargo hold to enable the new aircraft to carry a light combat vehicle internally, and has new composite rotor blades. It uses the General Electric GE38-1B engine.

It can operate at high altitudes, in hot temperatures, and in degraded visual conditions. It can carry a 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; can conduct 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; can auto-jettison external loads; and survive gunfire.

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

Related: Israel orders on-the-go satellite communications

The Raytheon Technologies Corp. Collins Aerospace segment 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.

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.

Related: IAI Stark Aerospace designs silent 9-pound manpackable UAV for covert urban day/night operations

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.; Wichita, Kan.; Salt Lake City; St. Louis; Bridgeport, W.Va.; Redmond and Kent, Wash.; Quebec; Cudahy, Wis.; Rochester, England; Fort Walton Beach and Jupiter, Fla.; Rome, N.Y.; Saint Marcel, France, and should be finished by November 2025.

For more information contact Sikorsky Aircraft online at, Naval Air Systems Command at, or the Israel Ministry of Defense at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Military Aerospace, create an account today!