The U.S. Navy has awarded Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, a $2.7 billion contract to build 35 additional CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.
It’s the largest procurement for the aircraft to date, and will see deliveries begin in 2026, divided into three parts. Under the arrangement, 12 aircraft will be provided for U.S. Marine Corps Lot 7 and another 15 for Marine Corps Lot 8. The remaining eight helicopters will go to Israel’s Air Force. The latter will provide for Israeli special operations programs, notably in terms of troop and cargo transport, as well as search and rescue operations.
The CH-53K is a multi-mission helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities – and the only heavy-lift helicopter to remain in production through 2032 and beyond. It can carry a 27,000-pound external load for more than 110 nautical miles in hot conditions and is meant to transport armored vehicles, equipment and personnel to operations deep inland from sea-based centers of operation.
“This contract award for 35 CH-53K helicopters stabilizes Sikorsky’s nationwide supply base, creates additional production efficiencies, and provides the U.S. Marine Corps with transformative 21st-century technologies,” Paul Lemmo, president of Sikorsky, said on Aug. 24. “Our long-standing partnership led to this best value contract award providing the capability and readiness the Marines need.”
The news followed the Navy’s announcement in December 2022 that the CH-53K program was approved for Full Rate Production, allowing the military to begin increasing procurement quantities and reducing unit costs. As a result, production is expected to increase to more than 20 helicopters per year.
Sikorsky will support this production through its digital factory.