CH-53K Helicopter Program Sustains Progress with Successful Integration Design Review

Jan 07, 2010, 10:39 ET from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

STRATFORD, Conn., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. today announced that an Integration Design Review (IDR) of the CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter program has charted a course for a successful Critical Design Review in 2010. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

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Sikorsky's CH-53K program team hosted a two-day meeting in November to bring together the program's key collaborators for an in-depth discussion on system design compliance and verification, design integration and cross-discipline system design attributes. Participating in the meeting were members of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, NAVAIR Technical Review Board, and the NAVAIR/Sikorsky CH-53K team.

Sikorsky Aircraft received a $3 billion System Development and Demonstration contract on April 5, 2006 to develop a replacement for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E heavy lift helicopter. The new aircraft program is planned to include production of more than 200 new aircraft.

"This IDR meeting reinforced the joint efforts that are keeping the CH-53K helicopter on track to meet its objectives, which include design compliance and verification planning," said Mark Cherry, Sikorsky Vice President, Marine Corps Systems. "We have identified our 'next steps' as the CH-53K helicopter program moves with strength toward production."

Mike Torok, Vice-President and Marine Corps Systems Chief Engineer, added: "These reviews are key steps to ensure the transition from design to build and test of this aircraft proceeds at minimum risk. The CH-53K helicopter is no longer just on paper - we've already started building the aircraft that will fill a critical need for current and future warfighters."

Its predecessor, the three-engine Sikorsky CH-53E SUPER STALLION(TM) helicopter, is the largest, most powerful marinized helicopter in the world. It is deployed from Marine Corps amphibious assault ships to transport personnel and equipment and to carry external (sling) cargo loads.

The CH-53K helicopter will maintain virtually the same footprint as the CH-53E aircraft, but will nearly triple the payload to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under "hot high" ambient conditions. The CH-53K helicopter's maximum gross weight (MGW) with internal loads is 74,000 pounds compared to 69,750 pounds for the CH-53E aircraft. The CH-53K's MGW with external loads is 88,000 pounds as compared to 73,500 for the CH-53E helicopter.

Features of the CH-53K helicopter include: a joint interoperable glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and reduced operation and support costs.

The CH-53K helicopter team has successfully completed several risk reduction initiatives on two critical technologies, the split torque main gear box and the advanced main rotor blade, and is preparing for Technology Readiness Assessment in early 2010. The program conducted a successful Preliminary Design Review in September 2008, and is tracking toward a Critical Design Review in 2010 with an Initial Operational Capability milestone scheduled in early 2016.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning potential production and sale of helicopters. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans or availability of funding or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corporation's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.