Sikorsky is ramping up production of the new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter and two special guests paid a visit to Stratford, Connecticut, to check on the digital manufacturing process.
Gen. David Berger, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and Jim Taiclet, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin, both made their first visits to Sikorsky’s primary manufacturing facility recently to see how Sikorsky is using Digital Transformation to build 200 King Stallions for the Marines.
Berger walked along the final assembly line to see four CH-53K production aircraft in various stages of build. He popped into a cockpit, explored the cabin, learned about the digital-build process, and got up close to a 400-pound CH-53K rotor blade.
He spent time learning about the CH-53K’s superior maintainability and reliability. He also saw firsthand several of the new components and design elements that significantly improve readiness and availability on the flight line, while reducing the maintenance burden for Marines.
Berger met with Sikorsky employees, many of whom were Marine veterans who are now supporting the build of the CH-53K. He gave each Sikorsky Marine veteran the commandant’s coin, thanking them for their dedication to the CH-53E and CH-53K mission.
“What you are building now can do so much more than what we are able to do today. What you do matters,” said Berger. “What you do makes a difference. You put your heart and soul into producing what the Marine Corps needs.”
Marine veteran and 43-year Sikorsky employee William Burr received one of those coins. Burr joined the Marine Corps in 1967 and did two tours in Vietnam before coming to Sikorsky in 1978. Today he works on the main blades for the CH-53K.
Jim Taiclet and General David Berger pictured with executives and Sikorsky Marine veteran employees.
First Visit to Stratford
Jim Taiclet also had high praise for the Sikorsky team.
“The fact that the commandant took time to come up here to Stratford shows that the CH-53K is one of the highest priority programs for the Marine Corps,” Jim said. “I was proud to have him here to see that we are giving the CH-53K program the same level of focus and urgency that he has placed on it.”
Berger closed his visit reflecting that it exceeded his expectations. He added that he is counting on Sikorsky to deliver the first production aircraft of both the CH-53K and VH-92A Presidential Helicopter this year and looks forward to visiting Sikorsky again. After Berger’s departure, Jim continued his tour, visiting more of the Stratford facility and making a stop at Igor Sikorsky’s office.
Jim Taiclet, pictured in Igor Sikorsky’s original office, views the documents and patents that positioned Sikorsky to where it is today – a world-class leader in the helicopter industry.
Jim also got a glimpse of the future, learning about recent innovations such as X2 technology and its benefits to the Army, such as maneuverability, survivability, and lower complexity.
In the virtual reality (VR) lab, Jim put on a headset and glasses to participate in a VR simulation where he “installed” bolts on a CH-53K with a torque wrench. The demonstration allowed Jim to experience one of the many Digital Transformation tools and technology that Sikorsky employees utilize daily across aircraft lifecycle.
Jim left Sikorsky with a greater appreciation for Sikorsky, its people, and products.