Rheinmetall has signed a strategic teaming agreement with Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, to jointly offer the CH-53K King Stallion aircraft for the German Air Force’s Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter programme.

Over the coming weeks, the two companies intend to introduce additional German providers who will work together to deliver a solution for the programme.

As part of the offer, the team will also provide maintenance, training, and other programme support for the German Armed Forces.

Using a modern intelligent design, the rugged CH-53K helicopter is developed to ensure reliability, low maintenance, high availability, and improved survivability in the remote forward-operating bases.

Sikorsky president Dan Schultz said: “Sikorsky has a 45-year history supporting the German Armed Forces fleet of CH-53G aircraft, and we are humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve the German Armed Forces for another 45 years with Sikorsky’s CH-53K.

“As a former CH-53 pilot, I can attest that this aircraft is truly the most capable heavy-lift helicopter we have ever built.

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“This aircraft is truly the most capable heavy-lift helicopter we have ever built.”

“Sikorsky’s CH-53K, combined with Rheinmetall as our key German partner, is a winning solution for STH.”

The Sikorsky aircraft can be effectively deployed to complete a wide range of missions such as humanitarian aid, troop transport, casualty evacuation, support of special operations forces, and combat search-and-rescue.

According to Lockheed, the helicopter will enable the German Armed Forces to carry out real heavy-lift operations and is expected to be serviceable with the German Air Force for the next several decades without the necessity for an overhaul.

It has the capability to carry an external load of 27,000lb over a distance of 110nm in high or hot conditions.

The CH-53K King Stallion has been constructed to meet the standards of the US Marine Corps (USMC) and will serve as its critical land and sea-based logistics connector.

The aircraft will be fielded by the USMC as fully operational next year.