Northrop Grumman has received a contract from the US Navy to provide integration and laboratory test support for the CH-53K Super Stallion helicopter’s LN-251 system.

Under the contract, the company will define LN-251 embedded global positioning system (GPS)/fibre-optic inertial navigation system (INS) requirements for integration into the Sikorsky-built CH-53K helicopter, which is currently in the initial test phase.

Northrop Grumman’s Navigation Systems Division vice-president of navigation and positioning systems Gorik Hossepian said: "The LN-251 is ideally suited to meet the precise navigation needs of the robust CH-53K helicopter because it is lightweight, highly compact and reliable."

The integrated, non-dithered navigation LN-251 system is the smallest navigation-grade embedded inertial navigation system/global positioning system (INS/GPS) unit.

The system features a fibre-optic, gyro-based inertial measurement unit to provide superior performance for navigation and geo-location of sensor targeting, and is capable of transferring align remote sensors.

The modular open system architecture allows for easy adaptation to other applications and evolving requirements.

The CH-53K Super Stallion is a large, heavy-lift cargo helicopter and features three 7,500shp (5,590kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider cabin than previous CH-53 variants.

The helicopter incorporates a new digital glass cockpit with fly-by-wire controls, a new elastomeric hub system, a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head, upgraded engines and a locking cargo rail system.

The CH-53K is expected to replace the CH-53E and will be used by the US Marine Corps from amphibious assault ships to transport personnel, equipment and heavy payloads over longer distances.

Curtiss-Wright is also supporting the programme by developing and delivering blade-fold distributor units and digital air-data computers for the heavy-lift helicopter, while GE is providing the new GE38 turboshaft/turboprop engine.

Initial operational capability of the helicopter is expected in 2018.