The service branch issued its IOC declaration for the CH-53K program after the manufacturer and the Department of the Navy completed initial test and evaluation procedures, Lockheed said Monday.
Sikorsky previously demonstrated the performance of its heavy-lift military helicopter in different mission scenarios, such as environments with extreme temperatures, and has recorded more than 3,000 flight hours for the aircraft to date.
The CH-53K builder holds contracts to build 46 units for domestic and foreign military sales customers and is currently manufacturing seven at a factory located in Stratford, Connecticut.
Lockheed expects the service branch to hand down a full-rate production decision on the program sometime in 2023.
The company said USMC plans to buy as many as 200 CH-53Ks under the service branch’s “Approved Acquisition Objective.”