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Germany on-course to issue heavy-lift helo contract in late 2020

26 November 2019
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The CH-53K (foreground) and CH-47F (background) at the ILA Berlin 2018 Airshow. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Germany is expected to issue a contract for the Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter in the final quarter of 2020, one of the two competing manufacturers confirmed to Jane's on 26 November.

Speaking at the Berlin Security Conference (BSC), Country Director for Germany International Business Developmentat Lockheed Martin Alexander Walford said that the company will issue its final proposal to the government in January 2020, with a contract expected "at the end of next year."

Lockheed Martin is offering the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion to Germany, while Boeing is offering its CH-47F Chinook. Both companies are the only bidding parties for the VFW-Sikorsky CH-53G/GS/GA Stallion-replacement programme for the Luftwaffe.

The STH requirement will see 44-60 helicopters delivered to the Bundeswehr from 2023 to 2031. In approving the STH programme in November 2018, the German government said developing an entirely new helicopter to replace its 70 incumbent CH-53G/GS/GA/GEs is "out of the question" and that the King Stallion and Chinook were the only "appropriate" solutions.

Designed to satisfy a US Marine Corps (USMC) 'ship-to-shore' heavy vertical-lift requirement, the CH-53K follows the same lineage as its CH-53E predecessor in terms of its baseline design. However, the improvement comes in a vastly improved heavy-lift capability (the K can lift three times the amount of the E through a combination of more powerful engines and advanced rotor blades) that is delivered within roughly the same physical and logistical footprint.

The CH-53K's internal cabin is able to accommodate a range of payloads including a Humvee, and it can lift up to three independent external loads at once. Other improvements include a 'glass' cockpit, fly-by-wire flight controls, a low-maintenance elastomeric rotorhead, a locking cargo rail system, external cargo-handling improvements, and survivability upgrades.

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