The U.S. Navy has awarded Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, $2.7 billion to build and deliver 35 additional CH-53K helicopters.
The contract includes 12 U.S. Marine Corps Lot 7 aircraft, 15 U.S. Marine Corps Lot 8 aircraft, and eight aircraft for Israel.
This is the largest procurement to date for the King Stallion multi-mission aircraft, and will begin delivery in 2026.
The CH‑53K is a multi-mission helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other U.S. Department of Defense rotary wing aircraft and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production beyond 2032.
The aircraft can carry a 27,000-pound external load over 110 nautical miles in high/hot conditions, more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E aircraft in the same conditions.
The CH-53K King Stallion is designed to conduct expeditionary assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations, critical in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a digitally designed, market available aircraft, enabling a range of operations such as humanitarian relief, firefighting, and search and rescue.
Those currently operated by Marines continue to achieve milestones, such as U.S. Marines exceed 1,000 operational flight hours in the CH-53K, CH-53K completed second successful sea trial, and U.S. Marines transferred supplies from KC-130 into a CH-53K.
The eight additional CH-53K helicopters for the Israeli Air Force follow the initial production announcement in 2022 for the first four aircraft under a U.S. Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.
The aircraft will support Israeli special operations programs, as well as provide the Israeli Defense Forces with the speed, safety, survivability and gross weight capability to support all of its missions, including troop and cargo transport, and search and rescue.
The U.S Navy declared Full Rate Production for the CH-53K program in December 2022. This is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually.
Sikorsky is procuring long-lead items and critical materials to support ramp up of CH-53K production in its digital factory.
“Our skilled employees are using digital tools to build more efficiently as these helicopters roll off the production line and into the hands of the Marines,” said Dana Fiatarone, Vice President, Sikorsky Marine Corps Systems. “The performance of the CH-53K in the fleet validates its capabilities to provide a strategic advantage and shows that even more is possible with this aircraft.”