After more than 1,500 hours of flight-testing last year, the U.S. Department of Defense sent Sikorsky Aircraft engineers back to the drawing board on multiple elements of a new helicopter for the Marine Corps, one of a few programs on which the Stratford manufacturer is counting on for a lift after several years of declining sales.
The Marine Corps wants more than 200 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters to replace its aging fleet of CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft, with the King Stallion designed to carry triple the payload at greater altitudes and ranges. If a full allotment of aircraft is delivered to the Marines, the total contract could top $25 billion. On Monday, the Pentagon released a proposed budget that would authorize $1.5 billion to purchase seven CH-53K helicopters in the coming fiscal year.
The King Stallion is one of three major programs in Sikorsky’s immediate pipeline, along with a new fleet of presidential transport helicopters for the White House and a new aircraft for the U.S. Air Force to rescue pilots downed behind enemy lines, as well as humanitarian missions during disasters. (end of excerpt)
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