Boeing and Sikorsky are touting the benefits of their heavy-lift rotorcraft offerings to Germany in a bid to influence the decision on a replacement for the air force’s CH-53G.
Berlin is considering both the Sikorsky CH-53K and the Boeing CH-47F/extended range Chinook as its options for replacing the CH-53G variant. Details of the requirement remain speculative because a request for proposals is yet to be released, but Boeing emphasises the availability and success of the Chinook, while Sikorsky claims new characteristics such as fly-by-wire controls, plus the company’s experience with Germany.
The new increased payload version of the CH-53 is currently undergoing testing with the US Marine Corps, and the US government has received a pricing request from Berlin for the potential acquisition of 41 CH-53Ks, which could replace the air force’s 81 in-service Gs. Lt Gen Benedikt Zimmer, procurement lead for the German ministry of defence, visited West Palm Beach in Florida where testing is taking place in March.
Boeing has also offered some pricing to Berlin, and delegates from Germany have communicated with the US Army regarding their Chinook operations, and spoken to two other undisclosed CH-47 operators.
Michael Torok, Sikorsky vice-president for the CH-53K programme, tells Flightglobal that it continues to have “productive discussions” with the German government and industry regarding the programme: “We are excited about bringing the tremendous capabilities of the CH-53K to the German military,” he says.
“As we have not yet seen official requirements it is difficult to say precisely, but we are confident this aircraft will be the best choice for Germany’s heavy lift needs.”
CH-53G currently operated by Germany
The CH-53K demonstrated the ability to externally lift 20,000lb (9,071kg) on 26 May, which is expected to now be followed up with a 27,000lb payload test. Initial operational capability – which will see four aircraft operational as well as the infrastructure and training in place – is expected in 2019.
Sikorsky notes that it is exploring options with German industry, and is “confident we can transition these to the CH-53K” through maintenance and sustainment already in place, as well as through established industry relationships.
It is understood that Germany requires some 40 replacement helicopters, plus options for 20 more, to be delivered by 2022. Air-to-air refuelling is also a requirement.