Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky has secured a contract worth $1.13bn from the US Naval Air Systems Command to build 12 production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.
The contract covers low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lots 2 and 3, as well as spares and logistical support.
A total of 200 of these advanced heavy-lift helicopters will be procured for the US Marine Corps (USMC).
Sikorsky will build the helicopters at its Connecticut plant, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2022.
The sea-based CH-53K King Stallion provides the required heavy-lift capability to the USMC to enable the service to meet future operational requirements for the vertical lift mission.
The helicopter is designed to meet combat-specific needs including quick entrances and exits in combat zones, shipboard operations, and the ability to operate in challenging climates.
USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation lieutenant general Steven Rudder said: “The Marine Corps is very appreciative of the efforts by the navy and our industry partners to be able to award the LRIP 2/3 contract.
“This is a win for the Marine Corps and will secure the heavy-lift capability we need to meet future operational requirements and support the National Defense Strategy.”
Sikorsky noted that the lift capability provided by the CH-53K helicopters will be three times that of its predecessor.
The USMC can use the CH-53K to perform expeditionary heavy-lift transport of armoured vehicles, equipment, and personnel.
Sikorsky programme director Bill Falk said: “Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to ramp up CH-53K production to support deployment of this modern, safe and reliable aircraft in 2023-2024.
“This contract demonstrates the USMC’s confidence in Sikorsky to expand production of this technologically advanced heavy-lift helicopter.”
Lockheed Martin stated that the CH-53K helicopter is undergoing a test programme to ensure quicker movement of troops and equipment and at higher altitudes.