EDO Corp. (New York, N.Y.) announced on May 18 that it has been selected by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Mass.) to design and fabricate composite airframe assemblies for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K helicopter program. The contract includes design and development, which is currently underway and will continue through 2012. This development contract is expected to lead to production of 156 CH-53K aircraft to replace the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters currently in the Marine Corps' inventory. The new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter will double the payload of the current CH-53E Super Stallion, to 27,000 lb over 110 nautical miles. EDO will design the aircraft's composite tail-rotor pylon and sponsons. The design and final assembly will be centered in North Amityville, N.Y. The composite fabrication will be conducted predominantly in Salt Lake City, Utah, with select resin transfer molded (RTM) parts fabricated in Walpole, Mass.
GKN Aerospace (Lisle, Ill.) reported on May 16 that it has been awarded a system design and development (SDD) contract for the fuselage aft transition for the Sikorsky CH-53K, valued at more than $70 million. The aft-cabin transition section includes the cargo ramp and overhead door. During SDD, GKN Aerospace is contracted to deliver seven development ship sets to Sikorsky between 2009 and 2012. Design, development and production work on these contracts will be carried out at GKN Aerospace’s St Louis, Mo., facility, and the Engineering Design Center in Nashville, Tenn. Full production of 156 ship sets is anticipated to commence in 2013 and continue through 2022. GKN Aerospace says it will use the latest design and manufacturing technologies to incorporate a number of high-performance emerging materials and advanced manufacturing methods, including automated fiber placement (AFP), automated trim and drill and digital inspection, all aimed at achieving CH-53K program weight, durability and affordability objectives.
The CH-53K is a land- and sea-based, heavy-lift helicopter that the Marine Corps' will use to facilitate sea basing. Sea basing expands military capabilities at sea that are needed to project and sustain operations.