The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit a $2.7 billion contract to build and deliver 35 CH-53K King Stallion combat helicopters for the US Marine Corps and Israel.
The agreement includes 12 Marine Corps Lot 7 aircraft, 15 Marine Corps Lot 8 aircraft, and eight aircraft for Israel.
The CH-53K is a multi-mission helicopter with heavy-lift capabilities and can carry a 27,000-pound external load over 110 nautical miles in high/hot conditions, which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E aircraft in these same conditions.
It is designed to conduct expeditionary assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations.
Delivery of the aircraft will begin in 2026.
The deal is considered “the largest procurement to date for this multi-mission aircraft,” Sikorsky said.
The eight aircraft for the Israeli Air Force follows the initial production announcement in 2022 for the first four aircraft under a US Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.
The multi-mission CH-53K will support Israeli special operations programs, as well as provide the Israeli Defense Forces with a platform that has the speed, safety, survivability, and gross weight capability to support all its missions, including troop and cargo transport, and search and rescue.
Israel’s CH-53K Deal Began in 2021
Israel purchased its first 12 CH-53K helicopters from the US government in an agreement signed with Sikorsky in December 2021 by IDF Brigadier General Michel Ben Baruch at the Defense Ministry’s mission in New York City.
“With this deal, the Israeli Air Force becomes the first international customer to procure the brand-new heavy lifters,” Lockheed Martin said at the time. “The CH-53K King Stallions will support the IAF’s needs for at least 50 years, replacing the current fleet of “Yasur” helicopters.”
“The signing of this agreement is a testament to the strong partnership between Lockheed Martin and our Israeli customer,” said Joshua Shani, Lockheed Martin’s chief executive in Israel.
“Through this partnership and this deal, together we will deliver an unmatched military edge in the region. I’m truly proud that Israel will be the first international customer of the CH-53K and look forward to seeing the IAF markings on the first helicopter a few years from now”.
The 2021 agreement included an option for the IAF to procure an additional six aircraft, with delivery of the first helicopters expected in 2026.
Israeli spending on the CH-53K will grow from $203 million to $348 million between 2023 and 2033 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6 percent, according to the Global Data Intelligence Center.
“Our skilled employees are using digital tools to build more efficiently as these helicopters roll off the production line and into the hands of the Marines,” said Dana Fiatarone, vice president of Sikorsky Marine Corps Systems.
“The performance of the CH-53K in the fleet validates its capabilities to provide a strategic advantage and shows that even more is possible with this aircraft.”