The Pentagon needs to undertake another review of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $31 billion CH-53K heavy lift helicopter program amid continuing technical problems and delays, according to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Republican Senator James Inhofe said the importance of the CH-53K King Stallion to the Marine Corps means that a “comprehensive, independent update” on the long-delayed program is overdue. Inhofe’s role leading the committee that authorizes defense spending means his request will almost certainly be heeded.
“We need to get it right, and this report should give us a current assessment and reestablish a baseline for the program to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” Inhofe said in a statement to Bloomberg News. The senator cited concern that the chopper “is more than a year behind schedule and has over 100 outstanding deficiencies that still require resolution.”
Inhofe’s request comes as the Navy plans to award a production contract for as many as 14 new King Stallions next month, though so far only two of a planned 200 helicopters are under contract. The Navy program office and Lockheed’s Sikorsky Aircraft unit are still working to address 126 technical deficiencies, according to the Pentagon’s latest report on the system. The Oklahoma senator stopped short of suggesting the contract not be signed. (end of excerpt)
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