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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Marines Up Order for New Heavy Lifter

MILITARY/HEAVY-LIFT

The U.S. Marine Corps’ now plans to order nearly 50 percent more CH-53K heavy-lift successors to its CH-53Es, according to Jeff Pino, president of Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky builds the latter and is developing the former.

At the Paris Air Show, Pino said Marine leaders have told the company "the program of record for the CH-53K is now 227." The Marines originally won approval for a program to develop and procure 156 CH-53Ks to replace a shrinking fleet of fewer CH-53Es. Pino said he’s told Sikorsky planners to assume a production run of 300 aircraft. The Marines briefed top officers May 18 on a plan to boost its light-attack and heavy-lift helicopter fleets by 50 percent each.

In June, the CH-53K completed its system functional review, clearing the program to proceed to preliminary design review later this year. The system functional review, conducted by an independent technology review board from Naval Air Systems Command, went very well, Capt. Rick Muldoon, CH-53 program manager, told sister publication Defense Daily.

"They were very pleased with the maturity of the design, where we have gone with functional analysis, and flow down, and all of that," he said.

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