WICHITA, Kan., June 28 (UPI) -- Aircraft structures for CH-53K heavy lift helicopters slated for operational evaluation by the U.S. Marine Corps are being supplied by Spirit AeroSystems Inc.
AeroSystems said the contract for the major structural cockpit and cabin components of four CH-53Ks -- worth $60 million -- was issued by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
"We are pleased to be moving forward with Sikorsky to the next phase of hardware and systems testing," said David Coleal, executive vice president/general manager of Spirit AeroSystems. "The CH-53K program is now one step closer to providing critical heavy lift capability to the Marines.
"We thank Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy for their confidence in our ability to design and build fuselages and cockpits that meet the requirements for this important mission."
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. The operational testing begins in 2017.
The CH-53K can carry 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under "high hot" ambient conditions, and nearly triples the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.