Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Helicopter division has received the fifth system demonstration test article (SDTA) CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter fuselage from Spirit AeroSystems.
Spirit AeroSystems delivered the fuselage from its facility in Wichita, Kansas, and is also scheduled to supply the 13th all-composite cabin and cockpit later this year.
The company is contracted to carry out the entire assembly of the cockpit and cabin of the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion aircraft, as well as supply the complete fuselage to Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky.
Spirit AeroSystems Defense programmes senior vice-president Krisstie Kondrotis said: “The Spirit team is proud to support the CH-53K King Stallion programme and is pleased to deliver the fifth SDTA fuselage unit to Sikorsky.
“This lightweight composite fuselage structure will support the Marine Corps requirement of much-needed additional heavy-lift capability.
“We look forward to being a major contributor to this programme and delivering on our commitments for many years to come.”
Major assembly works on the fuselage for the sixth and final SDTA helicopter are currently being conducted by Spirit AeroSystems.
Spirit AeroSystems Military Programmes director Jeff Jessop said: “Now, as we head into production of the final SDTA unit, we can focus on continuous deliveries to our customer and getting this much-needed capability into the hands of the warfighters as quickly as possible.”
The company is responsible for the development of the composite cockpit and cabin structure with a separately attached tail section.
The lightweight structure is expected to help enhance the capability of the CH-53K aircraft to carry out unrefuelled missions, while carrying a load of 27,000lb over a distance of 110 nautical miles (nm) in high / hot conditions, which is triple the load-carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion.