The Sikorsky CH-35K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter appears to be on track to be the world's most expensive helicopter, coming in at as much as $122 million per aircraft, according to one member of Congress.
The website dodbuzz.com reports that Rep Niki Tsongas (D-MA) came up with that estimate using a 2016 Selected Acquisition Report from the Government Accountability Office. She said that the Marine Corps provided information directly to House lawmakers this year that indicates that the helicopters are now expected to bust their baseline estimate by some 22 percent.
During a March 10 hearing of a House Armed Services subcommittee, Tsongas said that with the Marine Corps planning to buy 200 of the aircraft, and that "$122 million per aircraft in 2006 dollars exceeds the current cost of an F-35A aircraft for the Air Force by a significant margin."
At that same hearing, Lt. Gen Gary Thomas said that when the King Stallion enters full-rage production, that per-unit cost would drop below $89 million per helicopter. “That’s still very expensive; we’re working very hard with the program office and the vendor to keep the cost down and to drive value for the taxpayer,” Thomas said. “In terms of, can we afford it, we do have a plan without our topline that would account for purchases of the new aircraft we desire.”
The CH-53K King Stallion is expected to achieve initial operational capability in 2019.