Kansas, USA-based aerostructures manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems Inc (NYSE: SPR) said it has received a USD 60 m contract from US helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft Corp (NYSE: UTX) to supply the major structural cockpit and cabin components of four additional CH-53K heavy lift helicopters.
Designated System Demonstration Test Articles, the four production-representative aircraft will be used by the U.S. Marine Corps to evaluate the helicopter´s mission capabilities in service operating conditions.
SDTA aircraft are expected to enter Operational Evaluation in 2017, when the Marine Corps will verify the CH-53K helicopter´s capability to carry 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “high hot” ambient conditions. The new capability will nearly triple the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
To date, Spirit has supplied Sikorsky with the cockpit and cabin structures valued at USD 150m for five prototype CH-53K test helicopters and two non-flying test articles as part of a USD 3.5bn systems development and demonstration awarded to Sikorsky in April 2006.
The Navy modified the SDD contract in May 2013 to include USD 435m n funding for the four SDTA aircraft, which Sikorsky is to deliver to the Navy by the end of March 2017.
Spirit said it will begin work on the four SDTA cockpit and cabin sections during 2013 at its Wichita, Kan. facility. Deliveries to Sikorsky´s CH-53K prototype assembly line in West Palm Beach, Fla., will begin in 2014.
The Navy program of record plans for an additional 196 CH-53K aircraft under future production contract to support the Marine Corps´ operational requirements. The Marine Corps plans for initial operating capability in 2019.
Find out more at www.spiritaero.com.