House authorizers back Navy's CH-53K block-buy proposal

By Nick Wilson / May 16, 2024 at 3:10 PM

House authorizers are supporting a legislative request from the Navy that would give the sea service multiyear procurement authority to buy CH-53K heavy lift helicopters and their T408 engines.

A provision clearing the Navy to use multiyear procurement for the CH-53K is included in the House Armed Services Committee’s draft defense policy bill, which follows a legislative proposal submitted by the Pentagon in April.

In the proposal, the Navy asks Congress for the authority to enter a block-buy contract during fiscal years 2025 or 2026 for up to 37 CH-53K helicopter airframes. The Navy also asks for the authority to launch a separate multiyear procurement deal for up to 350 T408 engines from FY-25 to FY-29.

Taken together, the two multiyear deals are projected to save approximately $261 million compared to single-year contracts, according to the proposal. The aircraft will replace the legacy CH-53E as the Marine Corps’ primary, and only, heavy-lift aircraft.

The Marine Corps now anticipates an initial CH-53K deployment to begin in FY-26, marking a one-year delay compared to earlier plans as the service builds its inventory of spare parts and support equipment.

The Navy’s FY-25 budget request contains approximately $2.5 billion in procurement funding for 19 CH-53Ks and the Marine Corps’ unfunded priority list includes $250 million for two additional aircraft.