Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin's helicopter subsidiary, revealed on Wednesday
its industrialization plan for competing in the German Air Force "Schwerer Transporthubschrauber" (STH) Program, or effort to buy new heavy-lift helicopters. Offering its CH-53K King Stallion
, Sikorsky has already teamed up with German defense giant Rheinmetall Group—who will take care of in-service support if Berlin chooses the King Stallion—and the Sikorsky CH-53K team plans to host German companies in an industry chalet during the ILA Berlin Airshow April 25-29, where it will showcase plans for the long-term sustainment of the CH-53K by German aerospace industry. Companies expected alongside Rheinmetall include MTU, ZF Luftfahrttechnik GmbH, Autoflug, HYDRO Systems KG, Rockwell Collins Germany, Jenoptik, Hensoldt, Liebherr, and Rohde & Schwarz. Germany is looking to replace its legacy fleet of CH-53G, some of which have been in service since the mid-1960s, with a new capability. Facing off against theCH-53K is Boeing's CH-47F Chinook
The U.S. Marines have a problem. They rely on their CH-53E Super Stallion medium-heavy lift helicopters to move troops, vehicles, and supplies off of their ships. But the helicopters are wearing out. Fast. The pace demanded by the Global War on Terror is relentless, and usage rates are 3 times normal. Attrition is taking its toll. Over the past few years, CH-53s have been recalled from “boneyard” storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, in order to maintain fleet numbers in the face of recent losses and forced retirements. Now, there are no flyable spares left.
Enter the Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program, now known as the CH-53K. It aims to offer notable performance improvements over the CH-53E, in a similar airframe. The question is whether its service entry delay to 2018-2019 will come too late to offset a serious decline in Marine aviation.