US USMC CH 53K Cpl. Adam Henke 640Full rate production for King Stallion

Just before Christmas 2022, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Co., Stratford (CT), received approval from the US Navy to begin Full-Rate Production (FRP) for the CH-53K King Stallion.

The FRP is an important milestone for the H-53 Heavy Lift Programme Office as it allows to proceed beyond Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and begin increasing procurement quantities, thereby gaining production efficiencies and reducing unit costs. With this approval, the number of helicopters to be produced will build over time to eventually reach 20 per year. The contract with the Navy calls for Sikorsky to build a total of 200 helicopters.

The contract with the Navy calls for Sikorsky to build a total of 200 King Stallions. On 14 February 2022, Scramble Magazine reported on LRIP 6 contract for nine helicopters, bringing the total number of CH-53Ks to 46, of which 38x LRIPs, 4x Engineering Development Model (EDM) and 4x System Development Test Article (SDTA).

The USMC continues to execute its transition from the CH-53E Sea Stallion to the CH-53K and is on schedule to declare Full Operational Capability (FOC) in FY2029. On 24 January 2022, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (HMH-461) Iron Horses ('CJ-xx'), based at MCAS New River (NC), officially became the USMC's first squadron to operate the King Stallion.

Photo by USMC Cpl. Adam Henke

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