Lockheed Martin Corp is expected to receive approval from the US department of Defense Thursday to commence production of 200 new heavy cargo helicopters for the US Marines in a program worth $29 billion.
The long-expected award for the CH-53K King Stallion will cost $87 million on average each and $105 million including spare parts and certain service contracts,@ said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, who heads the program for the Pentagon.
The $27 billion program also includes more than $6 billion in research and development costs, Reuters reported Tuesday.
The new helicopter, in development by Lockheed's Sikorsky helicopter business, can lift 36,000 pounds and would replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which has operated as the backbone of field logistics for the US Marines since the mid-1980s.
The Pentagon's Defense Acquisition Board will meet on Thursday and it is expected to approve the beginning of production of the new helicopter, Vanderborght said.
Final terms of the production deal still are being finalized, a Defense Department official said.