Sikorsky awards additional contract to Spirit AeroSystems for CH-53K parts

The $60 million contract from Sikorsky Aircraft calls for Spirit to make four production representative aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps to the for evaluation of the composites-intensive helicopter's capabilities.

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Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (Wichita, Kan.) reported on June 27 that it has received a $60 million (USD) contract from Stratford, Conn.-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. to supply the major composite structural cockpit and cabin components of four additional CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters. Designated as 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.

SDTA aircraft are expected to enter Operational Evaluation in 2017, when the Marine Corps will verify the CH-53K’s capability to carry 27,000 lb/12,247 kg more than 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 nonflying test articles as part of a $3.5 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract awarded to Sikorsky in April 2006. The Navy modified the SDD in May 2013 to include $435 million in funding for the four SDTA aircraft, which Sikorsky is expected 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 facility. Deliveries to Sikorsky’s CH-53K prototype assembly line in West Palm Beach, Fla., are scheduled to begin in 2014.

“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,” says David Coleal, executive VP and general manager of Spirit AeroSystems. “We are pleased to have Spirit AeroSystems on the CH-53K team, providing critical structures for these Operational Evaluation aircraft,” says Dr. Michael Torok, VP of Sikorsky’s CH-53K program. “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 contracts to support Marine Corps operational requirements.