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Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR)

Stargazer2006

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TomS said:
Never mind that a helicopter is using all of its "control surfaces" just to take off and hover properly -- cyclic, collective, and anti-torque adjustments to the main and tail rotor ARE the helicopter's equivalent of moving the ailerons, rudders, and flaps.
Hey, I'm not disputing that!! Just saying that it's a LOT less impressive and it makes you want to beg for more! It was only an amused comment of course, I can't even begin to imagine the complexity of maintaining such a large and heavy machine in the air with such precision and stability!
 

yasotay

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Skyblazer said:
TomS said:
Never mind that a helicopter is using all of its "control surfaces" just to take off and hover properly -- cyclic, collective, and anti-torque adjustments to the main and tail rotor ARE the helicopter's equivalent of moving the ailerons, rudders, and flaps.
Hey, I'm not disputing that!! Just saying that it's a LOT less impressive and it makes you want to beg for more! It was only an amused comment of course, I can't even begin to imagine the complexity of maintaining such a large and heavy machine in the air with such precision and stability!
B)
 

Triton

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Sikorsky Aircraft CH-53K King Stallion First Flight Video

Published on Nov 19, 2015
On Wednesday October 28, 2015 at the Sikorsky Aircraft Development Flight Center the successful first flight of the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter prototype, known as Engineering Development Model-1 (EDM-1). The 30-minute flight signals the beginning of a 2,000-hour flight test program using four test aircraft.
https://youtu.be/9a5smA92uLY
 

Moose

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Testing has pushed the K up to 100 knots, according to Lockheed:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-we5Zc9yG30
 

yasotay

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100 knots! Eureka! Pressing the boundaries of ... yawn.
 

fredymac

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External lift tests. They'll have to pick up about 3 of these to meet specs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjmHb3tzmCY
 

fredymac

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Well the pilots like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYOI5m6ccbU
 

marauder2048

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fredymac said:
Well the pilots like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYOI5m6ccbU
"This video has been removed by the user."
 

fredymac

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Wonder what broke the link?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btfgnVvk5Mk
 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLjnvTvE5Mo
 

Moose

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Fantastic tie.
 

Triton

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Published on Jun 1, 2016

Andy Bernhard, Chief Engineer, CH-53K program describes three key technical aspects the premier heavy-lift aircraft offers its customers and operators.

https://youtu.be/Ufaj7e5xU4o
 

seruriermarshal

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CH-53K King Stallion Achieves 27,000 Pound External Lift

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --- Lockheed Martin today announced the CH-53K King Stallion successfully completed an external lift of a 27,000-pound payload at Sikorsky's Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The aircraft executed an "out of ground effect" (OGE) external load test at 100 feet above the ground while performing hover maneuvers to demonstrate its excellent control authority in this flight regime. An OGE load is the most stressful of lift conditions for a helicopter from a power required standpoint. OGE is defined as an altitude greater than the helicopter's main rotor diameter (79 feet in the King Stallion's case) where power demand greatly increases due to loss of the benefit of ground effect.

"This 27,000-pound external lift is yet another key milestone for the program," said Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky Vice President, CH-53K Programs. "The King Stallion achieved this external lift with ease, and we are on track to successfully complete the initial operational assessment this year."

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is developing the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The CH-53K has already achieved speeds exceeding 140 knots, and a third CH-53K King Stallion helicopter has joined the flight test program thereby accelerating the pace to full aircraft maturity and production. The first two aircraft have already verified the King Stallion's capabilities well in excess of the predecessor CH-53E. A fourth King Stallion is currently in final preparation for flight status and on track to join the flight test program this summer.

"Lifting 27,000 pounds in OGE conditions is another key milestone for the program, which further confirms our confidence in the design and performance of the aircraft," said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for the Naval Air Systems Command's Heavy Lift Helicopters Program. "This is the most strenuous condition we had to demonstrate from a performance standpoint prior to achieving Milestone 'C' and entering production."

The King Stallion will carry a 27,000 pound external load over 110 nautical miles at 91.5°F at an altitude of 3,000 feet - a Navy operational requirement for "high hot" conditions. The CH-53K helicopter will provide unmatched heavy lift capability with reduced logistics footprint and reduced support costs over its entire life cycle.

CH-53K pilots can execute heavy lift missions more effectively and safely in day/night and all weather with the King Stallion's modern glass cockpit. Fly-by-wire flight controls reduce pilot workload for all heavy lift missions including external loads, maritime operations, and operation in degraded visual environments.

With more than triple the payload capability of the predecessor CH-53E, the King Stallion's increased capability can accommodate a range of payloads from an internally loaded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) up to three independent external loads at once, providing wide mission flexibility and system efficiency. Additionally, a locking U.S. Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system reduces both effort and time to load and unload palletized cargo.

The U.S. Department of Defense's Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft. The first four of the 200 are scheduled for delivery next year to the USMC. An additional four aircraft are under long lead procurement for parts and materials with delivery scheduled in 2019. USMC initial operating capability is scheduled for 2019. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.


Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 125,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

;D
 

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bobbymike

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http://www.dodbuzz.com/2016/06/25/marines-new-king-stallion-chopper-lifts-27000-lbs-in-tests/

Now do we have a kick butt 12 ton vehicle to strap underneath? 2X Hellhound?

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/07/07/hellhound-atv-combines-tank-tech-and-laser-weaponry.html
 

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Some cool footage of the rolls and loops done with the A version. Any thoughts on whether they'll require these maneuvers for the K?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC2E8RJE3Jo
 

yasotay

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NeilChapman said:
Some cool footage of the rolls and loops done with the A version. Any thoughts on whether they'll require these maneuvers for the K?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC2E8RJE3Jo
Not for anyone wanting to keep their job! ;D

The era of dari-do with bagillion dollar rotorcraft are over. At least in the United States military.
 

fredymac

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Not much detail given other than a 170Kt top speed attained during tests.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFfB1xO8ucA
 

SteveO

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Nice video, it has that funny frame rate effect where the rotors are hardly moving.

When do we get to see it transform into a robot? ;D
 

Triton

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"Lockheed’s $29 Billion Copter Poised to Win Pentagon’s Approval"
by Anthony Capaccio and Julie Johnsson
March 27, 2017, 2:00 AM PDT

Source:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-27/lockheed-s-29-billion-copter-poised-to-win-pentagon-s-approval

The Pentagon is poised to review -- and probably approve -- a new helicopter from Lockheed Martin Corp. to transport heavy cargo for the Marine Corps in a program valued at as much as $29 billion.

The Defense Acquisition Board has scheduled a March 30 meeting to review whether to approve low-rate production for the first 24 of a planned 200 King Stallion helicopters. The initial contract would cover two of the aircraft capable of lifting 27,000 pounds (12,200 kilograms), according to Defense Department documents. Quantities would grow annually, to four next year and 14 in fiscal 2021, according to the latest published acquisition report.

Approval to proceed would be the first major acquisition decision under Defense Secretary James Mattis. It would also begin to unlock the revenue Lockheed expects to reap from sales, spares and repairs over the life of the program. The latest budget plan increases spending to $1.9 billion in fiscal 2020 from $892 million this year, including development.

The “big” revenue potential for the helicopter designated the CH-53K was the primary incentive for Lockheed’s $9 billion acquisition of the Sikorsky helicopter unit from United Technologies Corp. in 2015, Bruce Tanner, Lockheed’s chief financial officer, said in an interview. He said the King Stallion is the same size as its predecessor, the Super Stallion, but can haul triple the cargo.

“Frankly, when we acquired Sikorsky it was the 53K program that drove most of our valuation as to why we wanted to own Sikorsky,” Tanner said. “It was the fact of that aircraft.”


Potential Overshadowed

The King Stallion has international sales potential as well, and discussions are under way with Germany and Israel, Tanner said. “From a revenue perspective it is going to be the lion’s share of what we expect from Sikorsky for the next 10 to 15 years, probably, once it gets into production,” Tanner said.

The helicopter’s potential was overshadowed as Lockheed wrestled with accounting-control weaknesses and plummeting commercial helicopter deliveries at Sikorsky.

Cheap fuel prices have slowed offshore oil and gas drilling and sapped demand for the large helicopters that industry uses to ferry people and equipment. Deliveries of commercial choppers are expected to generate less than $300 million in revenue this year, down from sales of about $1.25 billion in 2014, before Lockheed’s acquisition, according to estimates by Jefferies.

The King Stallion should generate more than $500 million this year for Lockheed, according to Howard Rubel, a defense analyst at Jefferies.

The Marines will probably be the biggest customer, although there’s a chance the Navy could join in if it needs to add a craft with larger capacity, Richard Aboulafia, a defense analyst with the Teal Group, said in an email.

The commercial market is less promising. “Much of the world heavy lift market has gone with Boeing’s CH-47 over the past few decades,” Aboulafia said. “The CH-53K might be too big and expensive to change that.”

‘Lot of Money’

Democratic Representative Niki Tsongas questioned the helicopter’s currently projected production cost of $122 million per chopper at a congressional hearing on March 10.

That’s “a heck of a lot of money,” Tsongas said. “And even if there is no additional cost growth, it seems worth pointing out that $122 million per aircraft” exceeds the current cost of Lockheed’s F-35. The latest Air Force model of the advanced fighter jet is estimated to cost $94 million each, including engines.


The King Stallion’s cost is estimated to drop below $89 million after full-rate production begins, Marine Lieutenant General Gary Thomas, deputy for programs, said at the hearing. “That’s still very expensive and we’re working very hard with” Lockheed “to keep the cost down and to drive value for the taxpayer.”
Testing Office

A spokesman for the Pentagon’s test office said in an email that the helicopter is on course to meet its key performance parameters for range, payload and reliability, citing a Feb. 24 assessment. Army Lieutenant Colonel Roger Cabiness said the helicopter has so far demonstrated it’s reliable and available 85 percent of the time needed -- exceeding the 83 percent required at this point.

The King Stallion has demonstrated to date that it has the capability to support the “most stressing” Marine missions, Cabiness said. Still, one of the helicopter’s most serious problems is the high temperature of engine exhaust from two of its three engines, which must be fixed, the testing office assessment found.

“We will continue to track system maturation as we further demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft and implement any needed improvements,” Mike Torok, Lockheed’s program manager for the CH-53K, said in an email. “We remain confident as we head toward” the Pentagon decision.
 

yasotay

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$89M a copy! Well I guess you won't see any Kilos in Army Green.
 

flanker

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Soooo... It costs basically as much as Falcon Heavy? I knew it was expensive, but Jesus Christ LM.
 

sferrin

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flanker said:
Soooo... It costs basically as much as Falcon Heavy? I knew it was expensive, but Jesus Christ LM.
LM merely stuck it's name on the company when they bought it. They have SFA to do with CH-53K's cost (though it's interesting they get attacked for it simply for being the current MIC boogie man). The short answer is: you get what you pay for. You want a helicopter with the power of an Mi-26 Halo and fold it up and stick it on a ship? Well, it ain't gonna be cheap. (Though still cheaper than a Rafale.)
 

yasotay

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sferrin said:
flanker said:
Soooo... It costs basically as much as Falcon Heavy? I knew it was expensive, but Jesus Christ LM.
LM merely stuck it's name on the company when they bought it. They have SFA to do with CH-53K's cost (though it's interesting they get attacked for it simply for being the current MIC boogie man). The short answer is: you get what you pay for. You want a helicopter with the power of an Mi-26 Halo and fold it up and stick it on a ship? Well, it ain't gonna be cheap. (Though still cheaper than a Rafale.)
Fair enough. Lets not forget that we want a helicopter like the Mi-26 that can fold up, on its own, and can hang around in salt water for months on end. My point is that the Army would faint if handed that sort of bill.
 

Triton

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sferrin said:
LM merely stuck it's name on the company when they bought it. They have SFA to do with CH-53K's cost (though it's interesting they get attacked for it simply for being the current MIC boogie man). The short answer is: you get what you pay for. You want a helicopter with the power of an Mi-26 Halo and fold it up and stick it on a ship? Well, it ain't gonna be cheap. (Though still cheaper than a Rafale.)
The average unit price of the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion was $24.36 million in 1992 dollars. So excuse us for expressing sticker shock at a unit price of $126.677M (with R&D), $92.796 million (without R&D), in 2015 dollars for the CH-53K King Stallion. Is United States Marine Corps Aviation buying more than it needs in the CH-53K? Should new heavy transport helicopters even be in the price range of fighter aircraft? What is the opportunity cost for the United States Marine Corps for each CH-53K purchased? It seems that in your reasoning United States forces deserve the best, no expense should be spared, no price unreasonable, and no defense contractor questioned. Expressing such questions in your mind seem to be just hit pieces from your mortal enemies like Anthony Capaccio. Further, did the Department of Defense manufacture problems by giving this new aircraft the CH-53K King Stallion designation and name and invite comparisons to the CH-53E Super Stallion?

Are we to expect FVL Medium to be similarly exponentially more expensive to the UH-60 Black Hawk? Will the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant or Bell-Lockheed V-280 Valor cost as much as an F-35 in then fiscal year dollars?
 

kaiserd

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Triton said:
sferrin said:
LM merely stuck it's name on the company when they bought it. They have SFA to do with CH-53K's cost (though it's interesting they get attacked for it simply for being the current MIC boogie man). The short answer is: you get what you pay for. You want a helicopter with the power of an Mi-26 Halo and fold it up and stick it on a ship? Well, it ain't gonna be cheap. (Though still cheaper than a Rafale.)
The average unit price of the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion was $24.36 million in 1992 dollars. So excuse us for expressing sticker shock at a unit price of $126.677M (with R&D), $92.796 million (without R&D), in 2015 dollars for the CH-53K King Stallion. Is United States Marine Corps Aviation buying more than it needs in the CH-53K? Should new heavy transport helicopters even be in the price range of fighter aircraft? What is the opportunity cost for the United States Marine Corps for each CH-53K purchased? It seems that in your reasoning United States forces deserve the best, no expense should be spared, no price unreasonable, and no defense contractor questioned. Expressing such questions in your mind seem to be just hit pieces from your mortal enemies like Anthony Capaccio. Further, did the Department of Defense manufacture problems by giving this new aircraft the CH-53K King Stallion designation and name and invite comparisons to the CH-53E Super Stallion?

Are we to expect FVL Medium to be similarly exponentially more expensive to the UH-60 Black Hawk? Will the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant or Bell-Lockheed V-280 Valor cost as much as an F-35 in then fiscal year dollars?
I think the prices involved are quite illuminating on why such heavy lift helicopters are relatively so rare; they are all very expensive to buy and operate, and the Chinook has all its competitors at a massive disadvantage in terms of economies of scale. The King Stallion programmes very existence speaks to the specific needs and the political clout of the US Marine Corp.
 

sferrin

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Triton said:
It seems that in your reasoning United States forces deserve the best, no expense should be spared, no price unreasonable, and no defense contractor questioned.
Where did I say any such thing? When I see tirades such as yours above I can't help but wonder how much the poster knows about the topic, if indeed they know anything at all. If I told you I spent $3.5k on a drill for a military program you'd no doubt have a stroke. It's unlikely you'd have the first clue about why said drill cost what it did, what it was used for, or even how much it SHOULD cost. No, you just know, "ZOMG too many dollars!!! MIC is raping us!!!"
 

Triton

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sferrin said:
Triton said:
It seems that in your reasoning United States forces deserve the best, no expense should be spared, no price unreasonable, and no defense contractor questioned.
Where did I say any such thing? When I see tirades such as yours above I can't help but wonder how much the poster knows about the topic, if indeed they know anything at all. If I told you I spent $3.5k on a drill for a military program you'd no doubt have a stroke. It's unlikely you'd have the first clue about why said drill cost what it did, what it was used for, or even how much it SHOULD cost. No, you just know, "ZOMG too many dollars!!! MIC is raping us!!!"
If I take the aggregate of the content of your posts for the years I have participated on Secret Projects, it seems to me that you are expressing these beliefs. You have said on several occasions that "the requirements are the requirements" and "you get what you pay for." You are also quick to leap to the defense of Lockheed Martin, who you believe is being treated unfairly. The acquisition of Sikorsky a convenient excuse to go on the attack for the CH-53K King Stallion, where they might otherwise remain silent? Further, there are specific authors and publication that "get your dander up", as they say, for writing what you characterize as "hit pieces." These are always relied upon to generate a response, with or without, snarkyness.

So the real question is, is there $126.677 million in value to the United States Marines for each CH-53K King Stallion? Before you answer, consider that each CH-53K King Stallion represents one less F-35B Lightning II. Also consider that the United States Marine Corps could buy ten Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopters for the price of one CH-53K King Stallion. Further, why does the United States Army blanch at the prices that the Marines are paying for the CH-53K? Is the cost and capability of the CH-53K King Stallion justified compared to its opportunity cost for the Marine Corps?
 

sferrin

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Triton said:
So the real question is, is there $126.677 million in value to the United States Marines for each CH-53K King Stallion?
I'm not the one complaining. If you think it costs too much, how much should it cost and why? Which capabilities do you think they should do away with, how much would doing away with each save, and what is your supporting evidence?
 

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I just think it is dangerous to think to think like that. "It is hard thing to do so it must be expensive." Well yeah, and not really. If you are being honest with yourself, then 100mil+ USD for a helicopter is absolutely ridiculous pretty much no matter what it does. And what CH-53K is doing is overall, pretty vanilla. Delta IV Heavy is 400+mil per launch. Is that acceptable just because it is hard? SLS is 1 billion per launch. Is that too acceptable just because it is doing what is viewed as expensive things?

Mi-26 is able to lift far more, is far larger, and costs far far less. Yes it doesnt land in the water or folds stuff. But if a land crab version of CH-53K was made, it wouldnt magically cost under 40 mil just because. And yes wages are lower in russia, but even if the wages make up 30% of the cost in CH-53K and russian wages are 1/10 of that, that is still only 27% reduction in cost. So one has to be honest here and just consider that clearly a lot of the engineering (not just CH-53K) is not even nearly well cost optimized.
 

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flanker said:
Mi-26 is able to lift far more, is far larger, and costs far far less.
And has about 1/10th the design life of the CH-53K. Lets try for some more nuanced should-cost analysis across the board.
 

fredymac

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Looks like a CH47F costs around $40M nowadays. That's a lot less than $89M so the specs should provide some clue as to why.

The original specification for the K model was to triple the payload/range performance of the CH53E based on 24,000lbs over a 110 nautical mile radius under hot/high conditions. I am curious how far an Mi-26 could carry that load in similar conditions. I have seen pictures of a 53E carrying a 47 but never the other way around so I assume that multiplier will at least hold true compared to the CH47F.

The K is now a much bigger helicopter based on weight (88,000lbs gross vs ~50,000 gross for either CH53E or CH47F). Costs tend to correlate to weight so that gets you into the $70M's. The rest may come from higher equipment levels and "unoptimized" engineering cost. I wouldn't doubt that inefficiency and waste is padding the cost but now you need to consider multi-year buys and union work rules.
 

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sferrin said:
Triton said:
So the real question is, is there $126.677 million in value to the United States Marines for each CH-53K King Stallion?
I'm not the one complaining. If you think it costs too much, how much should it cost and why? Which capabilities do you think they should do away with, how much would doing away with each save, and what is your supporting evidence?
Are aviation projects eating the Marine Corps?


"Lawmaker Worries Marine Corps Investing Too Heavily In Aviation Over Ground Vehicles"
By: Megan Eckstein
March 10, 2017 3:59 PM

The Marine Corps’ top financial officer told lawmakers that the service considers its modernization programs properly balanced between aviation and ground needs, while acknowledging that there hasn’t been enough money in recent years to buy the ground assets at a proper pace.

The Marine Corps has faced the challenge in recent years of having to replace all its aircraft types, while simultaneously having to replace ground vehicles and amphibious vehicles and connectors. None are cheap, and having nearly a dozen modernization programs at once – plus across-the-board sequester cuts and then annual spending caps – has further complicated the service’s modernization outlook.

House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee ranking member Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) asked during a Marine Corps modernization hearing today whether too much priority had gone to aviation in recent years instead of ground vehicles and equipment.

“While the Marine Corps certainly has a need for aircraft of many types, the ratio of spending on aircraft compared to ground equipment is striking. The Fiscal Year 2017 budget request was no exception to this trend: in it the Marine Corps requested approximately $1.5 billion for procurement of ground equipment and ammunition, however in the same president’s budget it requested $5.3 billion for just five aircraft programs: the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter, the V-22 Osprey, the AH-1 attack helicopter and the KC-130 refueler,” she said during the hearing.
“While the individual aircraft programs in question are likely very important when taken individually, the scale of the imbalance – more than three to one in just this fiscal year – suggests that upgrading aircraft is currently valued higher than upgrading ground equipment. I have some concerns about this ratio of spending on aircraft versus ground equipment, given the Marine Corps’ mission to be the premiere force in readiness and the historical reliance that the nation has placed on the Marine Corps’ role in ground combat.”


Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas, deputy commandant for programs and resources, said the Marines had not invested as much money into modernization overall as the service would have liked, due to spending caps and near-term readiness challenges, but he said in terms of the aviation versus ground force spending “we do feel like we are balanced.”

“We are a light general purpose force. One of the things that gives the Marine Corps an advantage on the battlefield is its mobility and its fires. Much of that comes from aviation,” he said.
“The ground side, in terms of fires, mobility – those are equally as important, but if we were just to look relatively how we’re investing across aviation and ground, without looking at the cost – although there are significant differences there – but in terms of capability and capacity, we think we’re balanced.”

Overall, he said, “we have programs in place to address all of those (legacy programs that need to be replaced). We haven’t been able to modernize as quickly as we could to get out of the old metal, but in terms of balance, we feel that we’ve got it about right.”

On the aviation side, the Marines have been replacing nine legacy aircraft types with six new ones — all in varying stages of completion. The CH-46E and CH-53D helicopters have been replaced by the MV-22 Osprey, which the service is still buying. Same with the transition from the AH-1W and UH-1N attack helicopters to the AH-1Z and UH-1Y, respectively, and from the KC-130T to the KC-130J tanker. Farther out, though, three planes – the AV-8B Harrier, the EA-6B Prowler and the F-18 Hornet – are being replaced by the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, which reached initial operational capability in 2015 but won’t hit full operational capability until 2031, according to a Marine Corps modernization timeline. And the CH-53E heavy lift helicopter is being replaced by the CH-53K, which is still in development and test.

Thomas noted the importance of replacing these aircraft, with the Hornets and heavy-lift helicopters more than 30 years old and struggling to stay ready for operations.

He added, though, that the ground vehicles are as old or older. The Amphibious Assault Vehicles are more than 40 years told, and the Light Armored Vehicles are at least 30 years old.

To Tsongas’ concerns about the ground vehicles suffering due to so much attention being paid to aviation modernization programs, Thomas said “we intend to address all the concerns on the ground side. … We have good programs in place that we believe meet the capability requirements at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer, but we found both on the ground side and the aviation side is, we simply don’t have the resources to do either one at the rate we desire.”


His top three ground priorities – the Amphibious Combat Vehicle to replace the AAVs, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace Humvees and the Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) – are progressing well, he said. JLTV is in procurement, ACV is set to begin testing two competitors’ vehicles this spring, and USNI News understands the Marine Corps is getting ready to accept the first G/ATOR. Still, all are farther behind than originally planned, and for the aging LAVs there is no program of record replacement yet.

Tsongas questioned why these ground programs weren’t being given more funding to stay on track and to field at a faster rate even as some aviation programs have ballooned in cost. She cited recent figures showing that the CH-53K was supposed to cost $95 million apiece in then-year dollars, but last year’s selected acquisition report showed the cost had grown to $116 million and the Marine Corps recently told her office it had increased again to about $122 million a copy.

“It seems worth pointing out that $122 million per aircraft in 2006 dollars exceeds the current cost of an F-35A aircraft for the Air Force by a significant margin,” she said, calling the heavy-lift helo a “niche” airplane with “extreme cost” compared to the ground forces’ needs.

Thomas confirmed the $122-million cost but said that the service anticipates that “the unit recurring flyaway, when the aircraft begins full rate production, will shrink below $89 million. That’s still very expensive and we’re working very hard with the program office and the vendor to keep the cost down and to drive value for the taxpayer.”
 

Triton

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"Marines’ CH-53K King Stallion Set to Become World’s Most Expensive Helicopter"
Posted By: Hope Hodge Seck March 13, 2017

Source:
https://www.dodbuzz.com/2017/03/13/marines-ch-53k-king-stallion-set-become-worlds-expensive-helicopter/

he Marine Corps’ new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter is on track to surpass the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in unit cost, a lawmaker said this month.

The still-in-development King Stallion is designed to replace the Marines’ CH-53E Super Stallion choppers, which are reaching the end of their service lives. But while Super Stallions cost about $24 million apiece, or $41 million in current dollars, the Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin King Stallion began with a per-unit price tag of about $95 million — and there are indications it could rise further.

Citing a 2016 Selected Acquisition Report from the Government Accountability Office, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., said the CH-53K estimated unit cost had increased about 14 percent from the baseline estimate. Information provided directly from the Marine Corps to House lawmakers this year, she said, indicated that the choppers were now expected to cost 22 percent more than the baseline estimate, or $122 million per copy.


“The Marine Corps intends to buy 200 of these aircraft, so that cost growth multiplied times 200 is a heck of a lot of money,” Tsongas said during a March 10 hearing before a House Armed Services subcommittee. “And even if there is no additional cost growth, it seems worth pointing out that $122 million per aircraft in 2006 dollars exceeds the current cost of an F-35A aircraft for the Air Force by a significant margin.”

The most recent lot of Lockheed Martin F-35As cost $94.6 million apiece, down from over $100 million in previous buys. The Marine Corps’ F-35B and the Navy’s F-35C, modified for ship take-off and landing, remain slightly over $120 million apiece.

Previously the Marines’ Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey held the distinction of being the priciest rotorcraft in the air, at some $72 million apiece. The Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel, a planned replacement for the Marine One presidential transport fleet, did at one point reach a $400 million unit cost amid massive overruns, but the aircraft never entered full-rate production, and the program was officially canceled in 2009.

But the Marines’ head of Programs and Resources said the service is prepared to shoulder the cost of their cutting-edge chopper.

Speaking before the committee March 10, Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas noted that the Marine Corps expected the unit cost to drop to below $89 million when the aircraft enters full-rate production, sometime between 2019 and 2022. As the F-35A unit cost is expected to drop as low as $85 million in the same time-frame, the two programs will remain close in that regard.

“That’s still very expensive; we’re working very hard with the program office and the vendor to keep the cost down and to drive value for the taxpayer,” Thomas said. “In terms of, can we afford it, we do have a plan without our topline that would account for purchases of the new aircraft we desire.”

A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, Erin Cox, said in a statement provided to Military.com that the King Stallion program was now on track and meeting goals.

“The CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, as previously known and reported, overcame developmental issues as are common with new, highly complex programs and is now completely on track and scheduled for Milestone C review leading to initial low rate production,” she said. “The program is performing extremely well.”

Tsongas pointed out that the Marine Corps is now spending three times as much on aviation modernization as it is on modernization of ground vehicles, despite being at its core a ground force. Thomas called the spending plan balanced, noting that the service had active plans to modernize its vehicles, but the realities of aviation costs and the urgency to replace aging platforms required more outlay on aircraft.

The first CH-53K aircraft are expected to reach initial operational capability in 2019. They are designed to carry an external load of 27,000 pounds, more than three times the capacity of the CH-53E Super Stallion, and feature a wider cabin to carry troops and gear.
 

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"Marine Corps Wants Foreign Buyer to Curb CH-53K Cost"
Posted By: Hope Hodge Seck March 23, 2017

Source:
https://www.defensetech.org/2017/03/23/marine-corps-foreign-buyer-ch-53k/

The top officer of the Marine Corps said he’s pleased with how development of the service’s new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter is progressing, but concerned about the aircraft’s climbing price and looking for ways to mitigate the sticker shock.

One of those might be finding other nations interested in making their own purchase, he said.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about the cost point,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. “We’re focused right now on the performance, and it’s meeting all its dates, and it’s flown more than 400 hours. But the price is an issue.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Niki Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, revealed during a congressional hearing that early unit costs for the Lockheed Martin-made CH-53K King Stallion were projected to rise some 22 percent above the baseline estimate, or up to $122 million per copy.

While the Corps’ head of Programs and Resources, Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas, noted that the unit cost is set to drop below $89 million per chopper when they enter full-rate production sometime between 2019-2022, the early price point would put King Stallion costs on par with the fifth-generation F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

Even when the cost goes down, the CH-53K is likely to remain the most expensive helicopter in the world.

Neller said he hadn’t been approached by any Pentagon personnel with concerns about a Nunn-McCurdy breach, an acquisition policy that requires defense programs to be terminated if they increase more than 25 percent above baseline objective unless the secretary of defense certifies that the program is essential to national security.

But he said he plans to continue working with Lockheed Martin to find ways to reduce costs.


“Obviously, we’re early in the program, and we’re hoping there will be other folks who will come forward, potentially foreign entities that will come forward and want to bring the cost down,” he said. “It’s a concern, and we’re working it.”

A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, Erin Cox, told Military.com that “several countries” have expressed interest in the King Stallion and its heavy-lift capabilities, but did not specify possible buyers.

“We are confident the CH-53K will meet the needs of future international customers seeking to replace and upgrade their current fleets,” she said.

The King Stallion is set to complete its Milestone C review this month, a key step prior to beginning low-rate initial production. Cox told Military.com earlier this month that the program is on track to hit its developmental milestones.

Ultimately, the Marine Corps plans to purchase 200 King Stallions.
 

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Triton said:
His top three ground priorities – the Amphibious Combat Vehicle to replace the AAVs, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace Humvees and the Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) – are progressing well, he said. JLTV is in procurement, ACV is set to begin testing two competitors’ vehicles this spring, and USNI News understands the Marine Corps is getting ready to accept the first G/ATOR. Still, all are farther behind than originally planned, and for the aging LAVs there is no program of record replacement yet.
Two out of the three top ground priorities rely on the CH-53K for rapid deployment and hence a good portion of
their utility to the Marines. In a budget constrained environment you would tend to prioritize the heavy lift
given the long lead and standup times for aviation assets and the fact that you need 2-3 CH-53Ks to emplace
a single G/ATOR element.
 
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