Reliability, Low Maintenance, High Availability and Enhances Survivability
Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin company) delivered the first CH-53K KING STALLION heavy lift helicopter to the US Marine Corps (USMC) on 16 May. The company expects to deliver the second aircraft – of an expected total of 200 – in early 2019 and is preparing its Stratford, CT facilities to house series production from this summer. The USMC intends to declare initial operating capability for the type next year.
The CH-53K is the new-build replacement for the USMC’s aging CH-53E SUPER STALLION fleet, in service since 1981. The helicopter made its international debut and showcased its manoeuvrability and advanced fly-by-wire technology at the recent ILA Berlin Air Show. The CH-53K test programme recently completed the following milestones: maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000lbs (16,329kg); forward flight speed of over 200kts; 60° angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500ft; 12° slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing.
This first CH53K heavy lift helicopter will be stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, NC, where it enters the Supportability Test Plan. Marines will conduct a logistics assessment on the maintenance, sustainment and overall aviation logistics support of the KING STALLION, an assessment which will also validate maintenance procedures, with USMC maintainers conducting hands-on care and upkeep of the aircraft. The Supportability Test Plan will ensure readiness and support on the flightline when CH-53K helicopters enter USMC service.
“Our first delivery of a CH-53K to the Marine Corps marks the start of a new generation of true heavy lift helicopter deliveries by Sikorsky that bring unsurpassed and expanded capability across the modern battlefield to provide tremendous mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power, humanitarian assistance or disaster relief for those in need,” commented Sikorsky President and former CH-53 pilot Dan Schultz. “With 18 additional aircraft in various stages of production already, the entire Sikorsky team, in partnership with our suppliers, is looking forward to additional deliveries to delight our customer.”