The Navy awarded Sikorsky [LMT] a $185 million modification on May 31 to procure and deliver two more CH-53K King Stallion helicopters from the fiscal year 2022 unfunded priority list.

The helicopters are meant to fall under low rate initial production Lot 6. Work will largely throughout the continental U.S. and is expected to be finished by December 2025. 

This comes after the Marine Corps’ unfunded priorities list for fiscal year 2023, sent to Congress earlier this year, also included $250 million for two more CH-53Ks (Defense Daily, April 1).

Navy spokeswoman Megan Wasel told Defense Daily the $185 million award “only accounts for the airframe contract to Sikorsky at a unit cost of $92.8 million.”

Navy budget documents note the current flyaway cost estimate for a full FY ‘22 King Stallion helicopter is $131.7 million, including the airframe, engines, government furnished equipment, engineering change order and non-recurring engineering.

The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter. (Photo: Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky)

The final FY ‘22 defense spending bill appropriated two more CH-53Ks to add to the nine helicopters the Navy requested for in the base budget, at a cost of $1.5 billion for 11 total aircraft (Defense Daily, March 9).

The Navy’s base FY ‘23 budget request seeks 10 full-rate production Lot 7 CH-53Ks at a cost of $1.7 billion and $368 million in advance procurement.

The service also submitted a legislative proposal to Congress for a block buy contract for 30 Lot 7 and Lot 8 aircraft from FY ‘23-24 along with 9- engines to support the helicopters. 

The Navy and Marine Corps have already procured 40 CH-53Ks and plans to buy another 68 after FY ‘27 and expects to ultimately buy 196 total CH-53Ks.

The King Stallion helicopter also just reached initial operational capability (IOC) in April, the Marine Corps said last month (Defense Daily, April 25).

The Marine Corps is set to deploy the first CH-53K marine Expeditionary Unit detachment in FY 2024 and it will set up the conditions for sustained King Stallion deployments in support of Marine Expeditionary Units.

The CH-53K is a heavy lift sea-based helicopter with almost three times the lift capacity of the older CH-53E model. The King Stallion also has an engine with 57 percent more horsepower and 63 percent fewer parts than the 53E.