Timely delivery of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $29 billion CH-53K King Stallion helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps may be jeopardized by a potential shortage of specialized metal components two years after the bankruptcy of a key supplier.
In an illustration of how even the biggest defense contractor depends on its supply chain, the Navy’s aircraft development and acquisition command has assembled a team with Lockheed to assess options for ensuring a steady supply of the parts. General Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, is monitoring the issue.
The Navy is looking for an alternate company capable of a manufacturing process called “thin wall casting” to forge very precise, narrow passageways for coolants and lubricants to flow inside a metal housing. The process is designed to save weight, a crucial consideration in aircraft manufacturing.
The Navy plans to buy 200 of the helicopters, a lucrative opportunity that was the prime motivation for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed’s $9 billion acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies Corp. in 2015. The Marines are scheduled to declare the helicopter operational in December 2019. (end of excerpt)
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