Spirit AeroSystems has awarded a contract to CPI Aerostructures to manufacture structural assemblies for the US Navy's four CH-53K heavy lift helicopter system demonstration test articles (SDTA).
Earlier, Spirit was selected to develop and deliver four additional SDTA cockpit and cabin components for the CH-53K aircraft for the prime contractor Sikorsky.
Under the contract, CPI Aero will deliver step platform assemblies and cabin rack assemblies in 2014 and 2015.
In May 2013, the US Navy had funded four CH-53K demonstration aircraft that will be used for operational evaluation purposes.
The Navy is planning to procure 196 CH-53K aircraft, with initial operational capability scheduled in 2019.
The CH-53K dual-piloted, multi-engine helicopter can provide reduced operating costs, and state-of-the-art interoperability for the US Marine Corps (USMC).
Capable of carrying more than 27,000lb of external loads in extreme weather conditions, the CH-53K helicopter is fitted with modern glass cockpit, fly-by-wire flight controls and fourth generation rotor blades with anhedral tips.
Designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in adverse weather conditions, the CH-53K helicopter is fully shipboard compatible and replaces the existing CH-53E Super Stallions in 2019.
Additional features of the aircraft include a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head, upgraded engines, a locking cargo rail system, external cargo handling improvements, survivability enhancements as well as enhanced reliability, maintainability and supportability.
USMC's critical land and sea based logistics connector, the CH-53K helicopter can also perform missions including movement of cargo and equipment, transportation of troops, and amphibious assault and operations ashore, day or night, in battlefield conditions.
Image: Sikorsky-built CH-53K aircraft stationed at its facility. Photo: courtesy of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.