July 3 (UPI) -- Sikorsky has been awarded two contracts worth $28.8 million for work on King Stallion helicopters for the U.S. Navy.
One non-recurring contract is worth $21.7 million and the other is $7.1 million for the Lockheed Martin subsidiary, the U.S. Defense Department announced Tuesday, with each covering work that moves the CH-53K closer to production.
The larger contract includes data transfer unit and a defensive electronic countermeasure system replacement program to replace existing subsystems within the CH-53K production aircraft. Tasks include investigation, systems engineering support, risk analysis, integration development, weight impact and publication updates.
Most of the work under the contract will be performed at the company's facilities in Connecticut and Iowa, with the rest spread among other locations in the United States. Work on the contract is expected to be completed in January 2021.
The other contract supports low-rate initial production of the CH-53K, including non-recurring engineering, development, tooling, manufacturing, qualification, reporting and delivery of the nose, main, intermediate and tail gearbox gears.
All of the work will be performed in Stratford, Conn., and is expected to be completed in October 2020.
Because of delays in testing, first deployment is not expected until sometime in 2023 or 2024. Sikorsky has flown more than 1,400 test hours while developing the helicopter.
"We have transformed our facility for the future and implemented a model for all future helicopter programs," Sikorsky program director Bill Falk said in May. "These investments in systems, personnel, and our facilities have elevated Sikorsky's manufacturing technology and capabilities to meet production requirements of the CH-53K for domestic and international customers."
Sikorsky describes the King Stallion as "the modern solution for true heavy lift" on its website.
The King Stallion will be the same size as its predecessor, the CH-53E 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 feet, according to a company fact sheet.