The US Navy has recently approved the full rate production (FRP) of CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, built by Lockheed Martin’s company Sikorsky.
This approval was given after a review by the US Navy Research, Development and Acquisition acting assistant secretary Frederick J Stefany.
The review was followed by the signing of an acquisition decision memorandum on 21 December, to authorise CH-53K’s entry into FRP stage.
The beginning of FRP also marks the culmination of low rate initial production (LRIP) stage.
In April, the helicopter completed its initial operational testing and evaluation test vignettes.
The latest move, according to Lockheed Martin, will boost the existing production capacity of CH-53K to over 20 helicopters per annum.
Sikorsky CH-53K programme director Bill Falk said: “Ramping up production of the most technologically advanced helicopter in the world allows the US Marine Corps (USMC) to build out its CH-53K King Stallion helicopter fleet and support mission success.
“This production authorization stabilises Sikorsky’s domestic supply chain and is a testament to our enduring partnership with the Marine Corps.”
The FRP milestone will further allow Sikorsky to procure the required long-lead items and critical materials for advancing the production process of CH-53K helicopters in its digital facility in Stratford, Connecticut.
This work is presently supporting more than 200 CH‑53K suppliers and industry partners, located across 34 different states.
The company claimed that the latest decision will enable all the suppliers to procure equipment in bulk, which will eventually enhance efficiency and reduce overall cost for the US and allied nations’ customers.
Sikorsky is under contract to provide a total of 200 CH-53K helicopters for the USMC.
The CH-53K helicopters are being procured to replace the USMC’s Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion fleet.