Sikorsky Corporation has won a $435 million cost-plus-incentive contract from U.S Marine Corps on May 30 to build four CH-53K heavy lift helicopters.
These four aircraft will be the System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA) that the U.S Marines will test during operational evaluation.
“The SDTA contract represents an exciting and significant milestone in our program,” said Col. Robert Pridgen, the Heavy Lift Helicopters program manager. “We are well on our way to making the CH-53K a reality for our Marines and our naval fleet. The capability this aircraft brings, in every clime and place, is critical to sustaining the future missions of the Marine Air/Ground Task Force. The future of heavy lift is bright."
“The four SDTA aircraft are based on the configuration of the fourth and final flight test aircraft currently being assembled on the prototype production line,” said Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program Vice President. “We truly appreciate the high level of confidence the Navy and Marine Corps have shown to the CH-53K team as we move forward with this important next phase of the program.”
The U.S Navy has included the SDTA helicopters as an additional contract line item under the existing $3.5 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract initially awarded to Sikorsky in April 2006.
The contract schedule requires Sikorsky to deliver the first SDTA aircraft in 39 months, and the fourth by the end of March 2017, when the Marines will begin operational evaluation. The contract’s fee arrangement incentivizes Sikorsky to deliver early. Sikorsky will perform final assembly of the SDTA aircraft at the company’s Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility in West Palm Beach.
First flight of a CH-53K prototype aircraft is expected in late 2014.