Sikorsky has teamed with German Rheinmetall Group to compete for the German Air Force's new generation heavy lift helicopter acquisition program “Schwerer Transport hubschrauber” (STH).
Both companies signed a strategic teaming agreement to offer Sikorsky's CH-53K King Stallion helicopter being developed for US Marine Corps.
German Air Force already operates the older generation CH-53G Sea Stallion acquired in the 1970s. The 110 strong fleet has been upgraded by Airbus Helicopters and is expected fly until 2033.
Germany plans to buy 45 to 60 new heavy-lift helicopters, with a request for information (RFI) expected by this year end. Boeing is offering its tandem rotor CH-47 Chinook for the competition.
The rugged CH-53K is designed to ensure reliability, low maintenance, high availability and enhanced survivability in the most austere and remote forward operating bases.
It can carry a 12.200 kg/27,000 lb external load over 204 km /110 nautical miles in high/hot conditions (33°C/91.5°F at an altitude of 914m/3,000 feet), which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the present CH-53E.
The larger and 12 inch wider cabin is able to carry multiple US Air Force standard 463L pallets to an internally loaded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or a European Fennek armored personnel carrier, to up to three independent external loads at once.
Powering the King Stallion is three GE Aviation T408 turboshaft engines rated at 7,500 horsepower each.
The U.S. Marine Corps will field the CH-53K as a fully-operational aircraft in 2019. By the time Germany receives its first aircraft, the CH-53K will have been in service with the USMC for five years.
The King Stallion also offers enhanced safety features for the warfighter, including full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management that reduce pilot workload and enable the crew to focus on mission execution as the King Stallion all but "flies itself."
Other features include advanced stability augmentation, flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold, automated approach to a stabilized hover, position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments, and tactile cueing that all permit the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand.
Further, the CH-53K King Stallion has improved reliability and maintainability that exceeds 89% mission reliability with a smaller shipboard logistics footprint than the legacy CH-53E.