The CH-53K King Stallion flies a test flight in West Palm Beach, Fla., on March 22, 2017. File Photo by Lance Cpl. Molly Hampton/U.S. Marine Corps/UPI
Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense has issued a $48 million order from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a division of Lockheed Martin, in support of the production of CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters.
The order, announced Tuesday, includes management and delivery of parts for the CH-53K low rate initial production configuration aircraft contracted by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md.
In June, theNavy awarded Sikorsky an $878.7 million contract to build nine more of the aircraft, known as "King Stallions," for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The redesign of the CH-53E model provides twice the lift capacity, higher speed and the ability to carry a Humvee.
Work is expected to be completed by December 2026 and will occur primarily in Stratford, Conn., with some work at various locations, including Waltham, Mass.; Redmond, Wash.; Farnborough, England; Stamford, Conn.; Cromwell, Conn.; Stratford, Ontario, Canada; Paramount, Calif.; and Cary, N.C.
Initial operations testing of four of the aircraft began in July and is expected to continue through January or February, Marine Corps Col. Jack Perrin, program director for CH-53 helicopters, said according to Vertical Magazine.
Two King Stallions were set to fly from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., to Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., last month to demonstrate air refueling capabilities.