The US Marine Corps on May 16 received their first CH-53 King Stallion helicopter from Sikorsky.
The aircraft is the first of an expected 200 helicopters for the Marine Corps’ fleet.
The CH-53K is the new build replacement for the US Marine Corps’ aging CH-53E Super Stallion fleet. The CH-53E first flew in 1974 and entered service with the USMC in 1981.
This first CH53K heavy lift helicopter will be stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
There the helicopter enters into the Supportability Test Plan. U.S. Marines will conduct a logistics assessment on the maintenance, sustainment and overall aviation logistics support of the King Stallion. This assessment also will validate maintenance procedures with Marine Corps maintainers conducting hands-on care/upkeep of the aircraft. The Supportability Test Plan will ensure readiness and support on the flightline when CH-53K helicopters enter into service with the USMC.
Sikorsky expects to deliver its second CH-53K helicopter to the USMC in early 2019.
“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,” said Dan Schultz, Sikorsky President and former CH-53 pilot. “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.”
The CH-53K test program recently demonstrated a series of milestones including a maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms), forward flight speed of over 200 knots, altitude of 18,500 feet mean sea level (MSL), 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs, external load auto-jettison and gunfire testing.
Sikorsky is preparing its manufacturing facility in Stratford, Connecticut, to house CH-53K production beginning this summer.