2nd July 2013
Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. has received a $60 million contract from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. to supply the major structural cockpit and cabin components of four additional CH-53K heavy lift helicopters. Designated System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA), the four production-representative aircraft will be used by the U.S. Marine Corps to evaluate the helicopter’s mission capabilities in service operating conditions. The helicopter makes extensive use of composite materials from Spirit to help save weight and maximize carrying capacity.
“We are pleased to be moving forward with Sikorsky to the next phase of hardware and systems testing. The CH-53K program is now one step closer to providing critical heavy lift capability to the Marines,” said David Coleal, executive vice president/general manager of Spirit AeroSystems. “We thank Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy for their confidence in our ability to design and build fuselages and cockpits that meet the requirements for this important mission.”
SDTA aircraft are expected to enter Operational Evaluation in 2017, when 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. The new capability will nearly triple the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion™ helicopter.
To date, Spirit has supplied Sikorsky with the cockpit and cabin structures valued at $150 million for five prototype CH-53K test helicopters and two non-flying test articles as part of a $3.5 billion Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) awarded to Sikorsky in April 2006. The Navy modified the SDD contract in May 2013 to include $435 million in funding for the four SDTA aircraft, which Sikorsky is to deliver to the Navy by the end of March 2017.
Spirit will begin work on the four SDTA cockpit and cabin sections during 2013 at its Wichita, Kan. facility. Deliveries to Sikorsky’s CH-53K prototype assembly line in West Palm Beach, Fla., will begin in 2014.
“We are pleased to have Spirit AeroSystems on the CH-53K team providing critical structures for these Operational Evaluation aircraft,” said Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program Vice President. “Spirit has demonstrated strong performance and reliability as a key supplier during the System Development and Demonstration phase. We look forward to their continued success.”
The Navy program of record plans for an additional 196 CH-53K aircraft under future production contract to support the Marine Corps’ operational requirements. The Marine Corps plans for initial operating capability in 2019.