Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky has handed over a new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter to the US Marine Corps (USMC).

The company has delivered this aircraft ahead of the stipulated contract schedule.

Built at Sikorsky’s digital factory, this is the third low-rate initial production (LRIP) helicopter and the first CH-53K from the Lot 2 LRIP contract awarded by the US Navy in 2019.

It is also the seventh aircraft delivered to the overall fleet. 

The newly delivered CH-53K King Stallion joins the existing six helicopters that are currently in operation at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Sikorsky is manufacturing the CH-53K helicopters at its headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut, using advanced technology and digital production processes.

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Currently, this high-tech production line is active with seven aircraft in build on final assembly.

Sikorsky CH-53K programme director Bill Falk said: “This Connecticut-built CH-53K is a credit to our employees and their skills embracing digital tools and other advanced technologies to continue Sikorsky’s legacy of building modern, safe, reliable rotorcraft.

“Our supply chain supports the active production line as we prepare to deliver two more CH-53K helicopters later this year.

“We look forward to continuing our progress toward next year’s full rate production decision.”

In April this year, the USMC declared initial operational capability for the CH-53K helicopter.

It is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond.

The next-generation helicopter provides three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion.

Furthermore, Sikorsky is under contract to develop 12 CH-53K helicopters for Israel, as part of a US Navy’s foreign military sale (FMS) agreement.

The first deliveries under this FMS are expected to take place in 2025.