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Sikorsky CH-53K Approved for Full-Rate Production

Helicopter production

Sikorsky CH-53K Approved for Full-Rate Production

The U.S. Navy has declared full-rate production of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion rotor-wing aircraft.

The declaration is expected to increase production to over 20 helicopters annually moving forward. Bill Falk, director of the Sikorsky CH-53K program, said the announcement stabilizes the company’s domestic supply chain and ensures that the U.S. Marine Corps will have a successful King Stallion Fleet and support mission success.

The Marine Corps has approved the acquisition of 200 King Stallions, Lockheed Martin said Tuesday.

In April 2022, USMC declared initial operational capability for the rotor-wing aircraft. The declaration validates the platform’s ability and readiness to deploy Marines and equipment worldwide.

In addition to the anticipated production increase, the full-rate production approval would also benefit over 200 CH-53K suppliers across the U.S. It would allow other companies involved in the aircraft’s production to purchase necessary items in bulk, improving efficiency and driving down costs for producers, the U.S. military and international allies.

The helicopter is expected to remain in production through 2023 and beyond.

The CH-53K King Stallion is a multi-mission, heavy-lift helicopter designed to meet the logistics requirements of the Marine Corps and its allies. It has undergone over 1,200 test flight hours and has achieved key milestones, including high-altitude flights and operations in degraded environments.

The aircraft has a 36,000-pound payload capacity, the ability to carry cargo using its fuselage and vehicles and ordnance using lifts. Lockheed also said the helicopter can fly greater distances while carrying more cargo than its legacy equivalent or other competitors.

The King Stallion can be used for troop and cargo transport, humanitarian relief, firefighting and search and rescue.