Navy taps Sikorsky for nine additional CH-53K helicopters

By Aidan Quigley / June 28, 2021 at 2:14 PM

The Navy has awarded Sikorsky a $878.7 million contract to procure nine additional CH-53K helicopters as part of low-rate initial production Lot 5, the service announced Friday.

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, is the prime contractor for the CH-53K program. The first LRIP Lot 1 helicopter is set to be delivered in September.

A total of three helicopters have been delivered and 30 have been contracted out of the 200-helicopter program of record, according to Sikorsky's press release on the contract.

The nine LRIP Lot 5 helicopters are expected to be delivered in 2024, the company said. The contract is for the nine helicopters and "associated aircraft, programmatic and logistical support," according to the government's announcement.

CH-53K Program Manager Col. Jack Perrin told reporters Monday the Lot 5 award marks a significant step for the program.

"It also is very clearly signaling that the Marine Corps is transitioning its heavy-lift fleet from 53Es to 53Ks," he said.

The program is set to start initial operational test and evaluation next month, the Navy said in its press release. Sikorsky has delivered three CH-53Ks since October 2020, the company said.

The contract also includes an option for an additional nine helicopters as Lot 6 for potential execution in FY-22, the Navy said.

Sikorsky said the company agreed to a lower aircraft price for the Lot 6 contract, which is set to be exercised not later than February 2022.

The average unit airframe cost reduction between Lot 4 in FY-20 and Lot 6 in FY-22 is $7.4 million, according to the Navy.

The Lot 4 helicopters cost an average of $104 million per helicopter, with the Lot 5 costing $97.6 million and Lot 6 costing $94.7 million, Perrin said.

"The team's done a really good job of driving the cost out of the program while still maintaining the requirements and getting the aircraft to the fleet," he added.