Spirit AeroSystems Inc. has a new contract from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. to supply structures for four CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters. Sikorsky is a United Technologies company and one of the top helicopter builders in the aerospace market. The Wichita-based company produces composite structures like fuselages, pylons, nacelles, and wing components. The $60-million contract for Sikorsky involves major structural cockpit and cabin components for the new heavy-lift helicopters in development for the U.S. Marine Corp.

The Sikorsky CH-53K “Super Stallion” is a heavy-lift cargo helicopter still in development but due to start flight testing next year.  

"We are pleased to have Spirit AeroSystems on the CH-53K team providing critical structures for these Operational Evaluation aircraft," stated Sikorsky's CH-53K Program vice president Dr. Michael Torok.

The cockpit and cabin components are designated as System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA) and will be used by the Marine Corps to evaluate the new helicopter's mission capabilities in service operating conditions.

This assignment extends an earlier contract for the cockpit and cabin structures of five prototype CH-53K test helicopters and two non-flying test articles. Those were part of a $3.5-billion Systems Development and Demonstration contract awarded to Sikorsky in 2006.

The Navy modified the SDD contract in May to include $435 million in funding for the four SDTA aircraft, which Sikorsky is to deliver to the Navy by the end of March 2017.

Spirit will begin work on the four SDTA cockpit and cabin sections at its Wichita, Kan. plant. Deliveries to Sikorsky's CH-53K prototype assembly line in West Palm Beach, Fla., will begin in 2014.

"We are pleased to be moving forward with Sikorsky to the next phase of hardware and systems testing. The CH-53K program is now one step closer to providing critical heavy lift capability to the Marines," said David Coleal, exec. vice president/general manager of Spirit AeroSystems.

SDTA aircraft are scheduled for operational evaluation in 2017, when the Marine Corps will verify the CH-53K helicopter's capability to carry 27,000 lb over 110 nautical miles under "high hot" ambient conditions.