Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Sikorsky has received a $7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for maintenance of King Stallion CH-53K helicopters amid continued delays in its development.
The Lockheed Martin Co. subsidiary's fixed-price incentive contract, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, provides for automated logistics environment software maintenance operating systems and obsolescence avoidance in support of the low rate initial production of CH-53K aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Sikorsky expects to complete the work by October 2021 at its headquarters in Stratford, Conn.
Navy fiscal 2018 aircraft procurement funds in total mount will be obligated at time of award, and none expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
The current projected unit acquisition cost, including development of $139.5 million per aircraft, is 20 percent more than the baseline set in 2005, according to the latest Navy acquisition report.
The King Stallion will be the same size as its predecessor, the Super Stallion. But it will be able to externally lift 27,000 pounds, which is "more than triple the external load carrying capacity" of the CH-53E at an altitude of 3,000, according to a Lockheed fact sheet.
Last month, Bloomberg reported Sikorsky will miss the $31 billion contract for initial combat capability by the end of this year because of technical flaws in development testing.
The Defense Contract Management Agency said in a statement that its development phase is "taking longer than planned" because "additional test failures or issues" are discovered during flight tests. It estimates flight testing won't be complete until May 2020.
During testing, the exhaust gas sucked back into the engine, parts for the main rotor gearbox had limited service life, there were deficiencies with the tail rotor and driveshaft, and there were late deliveries of redesigned parts.
The company said it has flown more than 1,200 test flight hours. The helicopter has been in development since 2006.
The Pentagon plans to buy 61 of the helicopters through 2023, with annual procurement spending rising to $2.3 billion from $1.3 billion this year. From fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2024, the Navy is tentatively proposing to buy 10 fewer aircraft than planned and to reduce procurement funding by as much as $1.2 billion.