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Sikorsky sees delay in first flight of Marine Corps helicopter

LONDON (Reuters) - The first flight of the U.S. Marine Corp's new CH-53K heavy lift helicopter will likely be delayed until the first half of next year, instead of occurring by the end of this year as planned, the head of Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, told Reuters on Sunday.

Sikorsky Aircraft President Mick Maurer said the delay was due to challenges in getting design changes to the transmission system and gear box into production since those parts take a long time to produce.

He said he did not expect the delay in the first flight to affect the overall programme.

"From a design standpoint, we're in great shape," Maurer said in an interview on the eve of the Farnborough air show. "It's just a question of getting it produced."

"First flight is a high visibility milestone, but in the whole scheme of things it's not as important as actually getting the testing done, and we're doing that."

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Potter)