Sikorsky In Talks With Three More Nations For CH-53K Sales

A Marine Corps CH-53K King Stallion lowers a U.S. Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter to the ground after recovering it on Sept. 5.
Credit: U.S. Marine Corps

Sikorsky is in talks with three more nations about possible sales of the CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift cargo helicopter, following a deal with Israel and the ongoing competition in Germany.

Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo told reporters Oct. 12 that the company expects to produce about 300 CH-53Ks, including the 200 for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lemmo spoke at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington.

In Germany, the CH-53K is in competition against Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook for the sale of 40 aircraft. The country recently held an election, and Sikorsky is waiting to see what happens with the new administration and how quickly it will move forward.

“We’re hopeful that there will be a decision next year,” Lemmo said. “That’s a great opportunity.”

In February Israel announced it was buying the CH-53K over the CH-47, making it the first international buyer for the King Stallion. Lemmo would not identify the three countries with which Sikorsky is holding discussions.

The CH-53K in July started initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) for the U.S. Marine Corps and recently wrapped up a portion of the work at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California.

In September at Twentynine Palms a CH-53K undergoing IOT&E was called on to recover a downed Navy MH-60S helicopter that experienced a hard landing near the base. The CH-53K, designed to lift about 27,000 lb., lifted the 15,200-lb. helicopter off rugged terrain and at a high altitude, the Marine Corps said. 

“For every other heavy-lift aircraft in the U.S. inventory, you’d have to break that aircraft apart to get it out,” Lemmo said. “But the K was designed for this kind of weight.”

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.