This should help ease the pain of losing the VMX helo bid. Seems the Marines have seen the error of their ways with the way the V-22 program took as long as it did considering that for the money they spent just to get the V-22 ready to be mass-produced they could have already replaced their HMM CH-46 fleet 3 times over with brand new modern rotary-winged technology such as the H-60, H-92, or the US-101. I used to work on CH-46's but I always preferred riding on the CH-53E's over the Phrog any day.
AvWeek reports that the USMC is sole-sourcing an $18.8B development and procurement deal for 156 CH-53K's to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. New heavy lift aicraft engine, digital cockpit and airframe to be decided upon by the end of this year and Sikorsky will manage final assembly.
Sikorsky is seeking bids from subcontractors for the engine, cockpit and airframe. It expects to pick an engine designer this year. Candidates include the General Electric GE38, Pratt & Whitney's PW150, Honeywell's T55-715B and the Rolls-Royce AE1107C.
...the Marines considered putting the heavy-lift helicopter contract out to bid but determined that it would be more costly and would further delay delivery of the next generation of heavy-lift helicopters.
The heavy-lift contract eases at least some of the pain at Sikorsky of the loss of the U.S. presidential helicopter fleet.
A year ago, the Navy picked a foreign-designed helicopter for the presidential Marine One fleet, instead of a Sikorsky model.
[Edited 2006-01-13 03:21:02]