Production of the CH-53K King Stallion has passed a major milestone: the U.S. Navy has granted Lockheed Martin approval to move into full production. In fact, Lockheed Martin plans to build more than 20 CH-53Ks each year until 2032.
CH-53K Construction Moves into Full Speed
On Dec. 27, Lockheed Martin announced in a press release that it could now move into full-speed production for the CH-53K. This step follows the pre-production phase and demonstrates that the manufacturer has control over production costs, the entire production process, that the aircraft is complete (no more development), that the support systems are all confirmed and ready to be used, etc. In concrete terms, this stage is very important for future production because it allows us to ramp up. This is precisely the case for Lockheed Martin, which can now produce more than 20 CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters every year until 2032.
212 helicopters of planned for now
Currently, the U.S. Marine Corps plans to employ 200 CH-53K helicopters. They will be required to perform troop and/or heavy lift missions. The CH-53K actually received its IOC (Initial Operational Capability) on April 22, 2022, confirming some of its capabilities and allowing it to be deployed to Marines around the world. This step is intended to confirm the capabilities during actual operations. Once confirmed, the CH-53K will enter operational service (FOC, full operational capability). In particular, it must replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which has become too old and too expensive to maintain. For now, only Israel ordered a total of 12 CH-53Ks in December 2021 to replace its aging CH-53D Sea Stallions (related article). The German Armed Forces were interested in this new version of the heavy-lift helicopter as they were still using nearly 70 CH-53G/GA/GS/GE in 2021. However, the price proved too high and the CH-47F block II Chinook was finally chosen (more info in this article).
Découvrez cet article sur Air&Cosmos