Powered ground tests of the Sikorsky CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy-lift helicopter, are now well under way at the company’s West Palm Beach, Florida facility in the run-up to first flight later this year. The first ground-test vehicle (GTV1) started systems testing in late April, about a week before the first flying article was rolled out on May 5. Operational service of the mostly composite helicopter, which has been dubbed the “King Stallion,” is expected in 2019.
Sikorsky Aircraft powered on its S-97 Raider prototype on May 28 at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, marking the successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new light tactical rotorcraft. A contender for the U.S.
The first Bell 525 Relentless super-medium twin helicopter is moving closer to final assembly at Bell Helicopter’s plant in Amarillo, Texas. Matt Hasik, Bell’s senior vice president of commercial programs, told AIN that the three main cabin sections will be joined within the next few weeks. He also said that the first carbon-fiber, all-composite main rotor blade for the 525 has been completed and is undergoing testing.
The Brazilian Navy gave AgustaWestland a $160 million-plus contract for the upgrade of eight Super Lynx Mk 21A helicopters. The Navy has operated the Lynx since 1978, receiving nine Mk 21s followed by nine Mk 21As. Five of the Mk 21s were later upgraded to Mk 21A.
The companies have walked away from an agreement announced last year to partner on a new 5,000-pound helicopter. They continue to operate the HeliVert joint venture that produces AW139s for the Russian and CIS markets.
DRS Technologies, a Finmeccanica-owned U.S. defense contractor, has supported the distinctive sensor ball that sits atop the U.S. Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior since 1998. Technology updates the company has developed will make the electro-optical targeting system known as the mast-mounted sight (MMS) more lethal and better protect Kiowa Warrior crews—if only the Army continues investing in the long-serving scout helicopter.
Sikorsky and Lord have completed the flight demonstration of a hub-mounted vibration suppressor (HMVS) intended to address crew fatigue and reduced equipment reliability caused by helicopter vibration. Eventually, the HMVS could be part of a larger system integrated into all Sikorsky helicopters.
The long quest by the U.S. Air Force to acquire a new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) appears to have concluded, with Sikorsky’s announcement that it has received an engineering and development (EMD) contract worth an estimated $1.28 billion for a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk.
The U.S. State Department is still awaiting the delivery of 13 refurbished Sikorsky S-61T Triton helicopters it ordered under a 2010 umbrella contract, initially to support the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. The department has already received 16 modernized S-61Ns.
A Sino-Russian effort to develop a new advanced heavy helicopter was discussed during the recent visit to Shanghai by a Russian delegation headed by President Putin. According to Russian Helicopters general director Alexander Mikeyev, his company has been discussing the project with China’s Avicopter since 2008. “The main parameters of the project have been agreed on. But the work is not yet complete,” he said.
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