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Sikorsky and Rheinmetall submit bid for Germany’s new heavy lift helicopter

January 15, 2020  By Helicopters Staff

The CH-53K features fly-by-wire flight controls, reducing the pilots’ workload and allowing pilots to anticipate limits while keeping their eyes outside. (Photo: Sikorsky)

Sikorsky and Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH, the latter representing the German industry team, submitted a bid for the production and operation of the Sikorsky CH-53K (King Stallion) as the Bundeswehr’s new heavy-lift transport helicopter. The bid is part of the Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) program, into which Boeing has also submitted its H-47 Chinook.

“Our entire team is pleased to offer the CH-53K – the most efficient, capable and intelligent helicopter that will deliver the best long-term value to the Bundeswehr through the 21st century,” said Beth Parcella, CH-53K international business development director.

Sikorsky and Rheinmetall formed a STH project team of more than 10 German companies, which includes MTU Aero Engines, Autoflug GmbH and Hydro Systems KG.

“German companies will play a significant role in the success of the CH-53K program,” said Mike Schmidt, managing director of Rheinmetall. “For the industry, this means the creation of many new, long-term jobs for highly qualified employees and an important transfer of know-how.”


Schmidt continued to explain that Sikorsky and Rheinmetall prepared the application together. “This has strengthened the bonds within our team. We have developed into a highly effective unit,” he said.

Sikorsky explains the avionics and digitized flight control systems of the CH-53K program are designed to accommodate future software upgrades, while its internal payload capability may be increased substantially in the future with relatively simple modifications. The company continues to explain an integrated sensor system enables the aircraft to predict and prevent problems at an early stage, which drastically reduces maintenance for high availability rates of the fleet.

The CH-53K is equipped with air-to-air refueling fully interoperable with Lockheed Martin’s KC-130J tanker aircraft, which the Bundeswehr is planning to operate, and which is already being used by France. Due to the design of the cargo bay, Sikorsky notes the CH-53K accommodates the same air transport pallets, enabling fast cargo handling between it and fixed-wing transport aircrafts such as the C130-J and the A400M. This means that the helicopter can be used particularly in areas where these aircraft cannot land.

Sikorsky states, due to its versatility, the CH-53K can be used for the tactical transport of personnel and material, as well as for disaster relief, humanitarian missions, medical evacuation (medevac) or combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations. For example, the company explains no other heavy-lift helicopter in the world can transport more water to fight fires and simultaneously carry material and personnel.

If the bid is successful, Sikorsky and Rheinmetall intend to set up a logistics hub and a STH fleet support centre at Leipzig/Halle Airport.


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