Aircraft announced today that it has selected four subcontractors to design and fabricate the major fuselage sections for its new K heavy-lift helicopter currently under development for the United States Marine Corps. ’s Fuselage Team will consist of Aurora Flight Sciences, EDO Corp., GKN Aerospace, and Spirit AeroSystems. Sikorsky will conduct the integration and test program on the complete fuselage structure. The major subcontracted sections include the cockpit and cabin (Spirit), aft transition (GKN), tail rotor pylon and sponsons (EDO), and main rotor pylon (Aurora).
The USMC is expected to replace 156 currentE Super Stalion helicopters with the CH-53K aircraft. The CH-53K will maintain virtually the same footprint as the CH-53E but will nearly double the payload to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “hot high” ambient conditions. The CH-53K’s maximum gross weight will increase to 84,700 pounds from 72,500 pounds for the CH-53E.
The CH-53K also is expected to result in reduced operation and support costs. Upgrades include joint interoperable glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth generation rotor blades with anhedral tip; low-maintenance elastomeric rotorhead; gross weight expansion; upgraded engine system; cargo rail locking system; external cargo handling improvements; and survivability enhancements.