The Naval Air Systems Command April 18 awarded a $25 million firm fixed-price advance acquisition contract to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Conn., for long-lead parts and materials required to build and deliver the first Low Rate Initial Production Lot 1(LRIP-1) of the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K King Stallion.
“All acquisition programs are facing budget pressures these days, so awarding this contract a few weeks after obtaining authorization is a major win for the program and Marine Corps aviation. This contract ensures the program will have all required long lead materiel to begin building the LRIP 1 aircraft a year from now when the program achieves Milestone C,” said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Hank Vanderborght, H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters (PMA-261) program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command.
Milestone C review and approval, anticipated in second quarter 2017, will authorize production of two aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps. Initial operational capability is projected and on pace for 2019, whereby four CH-53K aircraft, with combat ready crews, will be logistically prepared to deploy. This contract allows the long-lead components to be purchased to build aircraft beyond IOC.
The most powerful helicopter in the Department of Defense, the CH-53K is a new-build helicopter that will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility using proven and mature technologies. Designed to lift nearly 14 tons at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in Navy high/hot environments, the CH-53K is designed to lift triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability with an equivalent logistics shipboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft, and less direct maintenance man hours per flight hour.
The Marine Corps’ procurement objective is 200 helicopters.