Military

U.S. House Panel Wants to Withhold CH-53K Funds Until Navy Reports on Progress

By Dan Parsons | June 3, 2019
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Sikorsky King Stallion CH-53K

Sikorsky King Stallion CH-53K/Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

U.S. House lawmakers want limitations placed on CH-53K King Stallion procurement spending until the Secretary of the Navy can report on the heavylift helicopter’s progress.

In a summary of its mark of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces calls for withholding half of 53K procurement spending until after the Navy’s top civilian delivers the first of what will then become quarterly reports on the program. The mark summary does not include dollar amounts.

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“Of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2020 for aircraft procurement, Navy, for the CH–53K King Stallion helicopter program, not more than 50 percent may be obligated or expended until a period of 30 days has elapsed following the date on which the Secretary of the Navy provides the first briefing required,” by the legislation.

The 53K, made by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, has come under fire from lawmakers in the House and Senate who are concerned the development effort has encountered expensive delays and technical difficulties. The HASC subcommittee’s mark would require quarterly reports on program through October 2022.

Each report must detail an overview of the program scheduled, a statement of the total program cost at the time of the briefing including development, testing and production; a comparison of the total cost of the program relative to the approved acquisition program baseline and an assessment of flight testing, including identification of the number of test events have been conducted on time in accordance with the joint integrated program schedule.

Each briefing also must include a update on correction of technical deficiencies that have been discovered during testing, which deficiencies have been addressed, those that have been discovered but not corrected and a cost estimate for correcting those deficiencies.

Finally, the Navy must explain any significant deviations from the testing and program schedule that are anticipated due to the discovery and correction of technical deficiencies.

Sikorsky recently was awarded a $1.1 billion contract for 12 heavylift CH-53K King Stallion helicopters, the Department of Defense announced on Friday, with $509 million for the current fiscal year and $617 million for the following year.

The contract to Sikorsky, owned by Lockheed Martin, covers Lots 2 and 3 low-rate production of the helicopter, which will replace the aging CH-53E Super Stallion, also produced by Sikorsky. The U.S. Navy plans to buy about 200 King Stallions.

As previously reported by Rotor & Wing International, development of the new heavylift helicopter was beset by delays, including broken components and deficiencies found during the flight test program.

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