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Sikorsky courts German aerospace on CH-53K supply chain

Sikorsky hosted German aerospace companies during a recent two-day event at in West Palm Beach, Florida, discussing the US Marine Corps CH-53K and the German Air Force “Schwerer Transporthubschrauber” (STH) heavy-lift helicopter programme.

Germany is looking to recapitalize a fleet of 81 CH-53GA/GS helicopters originally delivered in the 1970s. The request for proposals is scheduled for release in mid-2018, with a contract award in 2019. Deliveries would begin in 2023 when Germany begins to retire the CH-53GA/GS fleet.

Sikorsky is pitching the King Stallion now in development for the USMC, but could battle with the Boeing CH-47 Chinook.

During the 2017 Paris air show, Sikorsky officials emphasized their budding relationship with German manufacturers but would not elaborate on specific partnerships.

“It is Sikorsky’s intent to be heavily involved as the original equipment manufacturer [OEM], but to have German suppliers accomplish the majority of the work when it comes to platform sustainment,” Nathalie Previte, vice-president of Sikorsky’s strategy and business development says in a 5 July statement. “We have several suppliers with whom we are finalizing exclusive relationships and who will form the foundation for the Sikorsky STH team in Germany.”

While Boeing pitches its Chinook as the “proven” helicopter, Sikorsky counters it’s not offering Germany a prototype.

By the time Germany would make a decision on its next heavy-lift helicopter, Sikorsky would be in the midst of full rate production on the USMC CH-53K and will have achieved initial operational capability by 2019, Sikorsky’s president told reporters in Paris.

The CH-53K achieved milestone C, a full-rate production decision, earlier this spring and has four aircraft on their way to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland for flight testing, Dan Schulz says. Sikorsky has finished building test demonstration articles and is about to enter full production, he adds.

“So the idea that this is a prototype and people are saying we’re still developing the '53K is really wrong,” he says. “We’re in full production.”

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