US Marine Corps Declares Sikorsky CH-53K® Initial Operational Capability

US Marine Corps Declares Sikorsky CH-53K® Initial Operational Capability

Major milestone for the most modern and powerful helicopter in the DoD inventory

STRATFORD, Conn., April 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The US Marine Corps has declared initial operating capability (IOC) for the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, validating the platform’s operational readiness to deploy Marines and equipment around the world . Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company (NYSE: LMT), designed and manufactured the CH-53K, which enables the United States Marine Corps and international militaries to move troops and equipment from ship to ship. coast, and to higher ground, faster and more efficiently than ever before.

“This statement is a vote of confidence from Marine Corps leadership and demonstrates the critical role of the CH-53K, giving forces greater range and agility to perform expeditionary heavy armored vehicle assault transports, of equipment and personnel. This capability is critical in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world in support of the Joint Force and allies,” said Sikorsky Chairman Paul Lemo. “Sikorsky and our nationwide CH-53K supply chain, including dozens of smaller companies, are committed to delivering aircraft that can adapt to future missions and are reliable, durable and relevant for decades to come. “

The path to the CH-53K IOC included initial operational test and evaluation collaboration between Sikorsky, the US Navy and the US Marine Corps to develop, test and validate the advanced capabilities of this 21st planes of the century.

CH-53K Critical Capabilities

The Marines flew and supported the CH-53K in the fleet environment demonstrating the aircraft is on track to fully deploy on schedule. The aircraft has flown over 3,000 hours, demonstrating the CH-53K’s performance in a range of mission scenarios, including extremely cold and hot environments. Other achievements include:

  • In-flight refueling day and night
  • Air-to-air refueling with an external load of 27,000 lbs.
  • Sea trials with more than 350 landings
  • Live fire testing and evaluation
  • Sustained operations simulating the unloading of a maritime expeditionary brigade
  • Testing under degraded visual environment conditions at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona
  • Delivery of the first six aircraft to the Marine Corps

To be continued: production at full speed

The IOC statement positions the Marine Corps for a full-rate production decision in 2023. The approved acquisition target is 200 aircraft.

The CH-53K high-tech production line of Stratford, Connecticut, is active with seven aircraft under construction, three of which are to be delivered to the Marine Corps this year. There are 46 aircraft fully under contract, including four heavy-lift helicopters for the government of Israel and 14 other aircraft under contract for long-lead material. The helicopters of Israel are subject to a US Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.

The CH-53K program leverages digital yarn technologies to achieve dwell savings and increased performance and readiness. The digital thread permeates the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of the CH-53K.

The CH-53K provides increased mission readiness for Marines

The CH-53K has been purpose-built with a digitally enhanced modern maintenance support environment to dramatically improve the maintainer experience.

  • Maintenance times will be reduced by a third thanks to several physical design features and smart technologies designed and integrated into the aircraft.
  • The digital aircraft powers a modern aircraft-side automated maintenance system that enables advanced diagnostics and proactive support solutions.
  • A robust support system is in place for the CH-53K with spare parts, support hardware, validated repair manuals and Sikorsky technical experts in the field to support commissioning.

The increased readiness of the CH-53K will be made possible by building on the current success of the CH-53E, an aircraft purpose-built for maintainability. Sikorsky has unparalleled experience in providing parts supply, integrated logistics, best-in-class fleet data analytics, support services, and a DoD award-winning performance-based logistics agreement to the Corps of United States Marines and its CH-53E Super Stallion fleet for 38 years.

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