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.

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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.

“This contract demonstrates the USMC’s confidence in Sikorsky to expand production of this technologically advanced heavy-lift helicopter.”

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.