Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin
Sikorsky has formally offered the CH-53K King Stallion as the German Luftwaffe’s next heavy lift helicopter.
A formal request for proposals for the "Schwerer Transporthubschrauber" (STH) program is expected this summer to replace the older CH-53 the German Air Force currently flies. Boeing’s CH-47F is another expected competitor for the program.
“The CH-53K is the modern heavy lift solution that will provide the German Armed Forces with a safe, reliable heavy lift helicopter that can be entered into service seamlessly without need for upgrades for the next several decades. It is the only heavy lifter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond,” Sikorsky President Dan Schultz said in a prepared statement. “Our strong German industry team will provide sustainment and maintenance over the next 40-50 years ensuring high-quality jobs across the country for decades to come.”
Sikorsky is partnered with several German defense firms on the program, including Rheinmetall, MTU, ZF Luftfahrttechnik GmbH, Autoflug, HYDRO Systems KG, Collins Aerospace, Vincorion, Hensoldt, Liebherr and Rohde & Schwarz.
“Sikorsky is already today in close partnerships with more than 10 leading German technology companies, including the exclusive teammates Rheinmetall, MTU, Autoflug and HYDRO,” said Susanne Wiegand, member of the management board of Rheinmetall Defence. “This team is a fundamental key factor for a successful STH program, high availability rates of the helicopters and creates best added value for Germany and its industry. We are looking forward that the procurement decision will be made in favor of the CH-53K.”
The U.S. Marine Corps on May 17 awarded Sikorsky a contract for 12 more CH-53K aircraft. Sikorsky is now on contract for a total of 14 low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft, plus the four development and test aircraft that will also go to the Marines, with one aircraft already delivered. The Marine Corps program of record is 200 aircraft.
“We are very glad about the decision of the U.S. Marine Corps,” Wiegand said. “This sign of confidence from the U.S. government perfectly demonstrates the trust in the performance of the CH-53K. It is the most modern, intelligent and powerful available Heavy Lift Helicopter in the market and we were able to get an impression of the CH-53K’s enormous capabilities in USA. Countless successful test flights with the helicopter are approved for the advanced maturity of the test program.”
The CH-53K has now flown more than 1,400 test hours and has met all the outer reaches of the test envelope, according to Sikorsky. The King Stallion is in the midst of a test program that so far has included high altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms); forward flight speed of over 200 knots; 60 degrees angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500 feet mean sea level (MSL); 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing.