Siko­rsky re­ceives US Navy award to build CH-53K op­er­a­tional test helicopters


Siko­rsky Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion has re­ceived a $435 mil­lion US Navy con­tract to build four pro­duc­tion-rep­re­sen­ta­tive CH-53K helicopters for the US Marine Corps. Des­ig­nated as sys­tem demon­stra­tion test ar­ti­cles (SDTA), the four air­craft will en­able the Marines to con­duct op­er­a­tional eval­u­a­tion of the new he­li­copter sys­tem in sup­port of Ini­tial Op­er­a­tional Ca­pa­bil­ity in 2019.

“The four SDTA air­craft are based on the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the fourth and fi­nal flight test air­craft cur­rently be­ing as­sem­bled on the pro­to­type pro­duc­tion line,” said Dr Michael Torok, Siko­rsky’s CH-53K Pro­gram Vice Pres­i­dent.

The Navy has in­cluded the SDTA helicopters as an ad­di­tional line item un­der the ex­ist­ing $3.5 bil­lion sys­tem de­vel­op­ment and demon­stra­tion (SDD) con­tract ini­tially awarded to Siko­rsky in April 2006. The con­tract sched­ule re­quires that Siko­rsky de­liver the first SDTA air­craft in 39 months, and the fourth by the end of March 2017, when the Marines will be­gin op­er­a­tional eval­u­a­tion. The con­tract’s cost-plus-in­cen­tive fee ar­range­ment in­cen­tivizes Siko­rsky to de­liver early. Siko­rsky will per­form fi­nal assem­bly of the SDTA air­craft at the com­pany’s Florida Assem­bly and Flight Op­er­a­tions fa­cil­ity in West Palm Beach.

Siko­rsky has de­liv­ered two of the seven SDD CH-53K air­craft—the ground test ve­hi­cle and the static test ar­ti­cle – into the test pro­gramme, and is fi­nal­is­ing assem­bly of the four flight test air­craft and the fa­tigue test ar­ti­cle. First flight of a CH-53K pro­to­type air­craft is ex­pected in late 2014.

Once the SDTA air­craft en­ter op­er­a­tional eval­u­a­tion in 2017, the Marine Corps will ver­ify the CH-53K he­li­copter’s ca­pa­bil­ity to carry 27,000 pounds over 110 nau­ti­cal miles un­der “high hot” am­bi­ent con­di­tions, nearly tripling the ex­ter­nal load car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of the cur­rent CH-53E Su­per Stal­lion he­li­copter.

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