The US Marine Corps (USMC) has contracted Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky to build nine more CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters.

The additional units fall under the USMC’s 200 aircraft Program of Record.

The company will use its digital build and advanced technology production processes to manufacture the aircraft at a lower unit price than previous lots.

Sikorsky CH-53K programmes director Bill Falk said: “By embracing resilient, predictive logistics and sustainment, we are enabling CH-5K crews to make smarter, faster decisions, to increase reliability, and improve readiness and material availability at reduced burden to the fleet.

“After 50 years of supporting the CH-53E, Sikorsky has a deep understanding of the heavy-lift mission and an enduring partnership with the US Marines Corps, enabling our team and our proven supply chain to offer tailored solutions resulting in more efficient missions.”

Production of the helicopters will be carried out at the company’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.

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Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2025.

Sikorsky’s Stratford manufacturing plant has seven aircraft currently under construction and another 47 units in different production stages.

To date, the USMC has received five operational CH-53K helicopters from Sikorsky in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Sikorsky will deliver four more helicopters this year.                               

The USMC will deploy CH-53K to conduct expeditionary heavy-lift assault transport of armoured vehicles, equipment, as well as personnel.

Last year, the CH-53K programme entered the initial operational test and evaluation stage. It will end this year.

In 2019, Sikorsky won a contract worth $1.13bn from the US Naval Air Systems Command to build 12 production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.