On April 6 Sikorsky was awarded a $3.0 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract for the United States Marine Corps CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX).
The celebration in Sikorsky's military aircraft hangar featured two CH-53Es on display under a large American flag.
Honored guests included U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, the Honorable Dr. Delores M. Etter, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, Lieutenant General John G. Castellaw, United States Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Mr. Bill Balderson, deputy assistant for the Navy for Aviation, Mr. Tom Laux, Program Executive Officer for Air, ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs, Naval Air Systems Command, and Colonel Paul Croisetiere, USMC, Program Manager, PMA-261, and H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters.
"The start of SDD for the CH-53K brings the promise of a new era in Marine Corps aviation. The CH-53K will incorporate current technologies 'tip-to-tail' in a new airframe that will provide far more payload, range and 'hot-high' capability with drastically reduced maintenance and operating costs than today's CH-53E," said Sikorsky President Jeff Pino.
"Sikorsky welcomes the challenge. We have worked with the Marine Corps to develop and manufacture medium and heavy lift helicopters for more than 50 years. We are committed to carrying that legacy forward with the CH-53K."
"We are thankful to the U.S. government, our elected representatives, and the Department of Defense for showing confidence in Sikorsky. Together, we are united in our efforts to build an aircraft worthy of the brave and dedicated men and women who so proudly call themselves U.S. Marines," Pino said.
Under the terms of the SDD contract, Sikorsky will oversee aircraft development, systems integration, test article production and test and evaluation activities on a sole source basis. The SDD contract could lead to the production of 156 CH-53K aircraft to replace roughly an equal number of CH-53E SUPER STALLIONsT in the Marine Corps' current inventory. Development money and production quantities are determined year-by-year over the life of the program based on funding allocations set by Congress and Pentagon acquisition priorities.
SDD engineering and program administration activity will be centered at Sikorsky's Stratford facility and begin immediately.
The three-engine Sikorsky CH-53E SUPER STALLION is the largest, most powerful marinized helicopter in the world. It is deployed from Marine Corps amphibious assault ships to transport personnel and equipment, and to carry external (sling) loads.
Sikorsky is currently conducting competitions to select suppliers for the CH-53K major sub-systems, including the avionics management system and the engine. Sub-system supplier selection is scheduled to finish later in 2006.
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 versus 73,000 pounds for the CH-53E.
The upgrades slated for the CH-53K include: joint interoperable glass cockpit fly-by-wire flight controls; high-efficiency rotor blade with anhedral tip; low-maintenance elastomeric rotorhead; gross weight expansion; upgraded engine system; cargo rail locking system; external cargo handling improvements and survivability enhancements; and reduced operation and support costs.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacturing, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future business opportunities. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corporation's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.