The U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53K helicopter entered flight test phase today upon completing .its first flight at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach.
At 8:02 a.m., the CH-53K King Stallion took off and hovered for 30 minutes at 25 feet to assess basic aircraft controllability and landing, and handled as predicted.
"We have entered a much anticipated phase in this developmental program," said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for heavy lift helicopters. "We have experienced significant learning at the system and sub-system levels, which continues to build our confidence in the capabilities of the 53K. With first flight behind us, we look forward to execution of the development and operational testing and the deployment of this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters."
The CH-53K is the Marine Corps' new build, heavy lift replacement for the CH-53E, which will transport Marines, heavy equipment and supplies during ship-to-shore movement in support of amphibious assault and subsequent operations ashore. The CH-53K will expand the fleet's ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility. Using proven and matured technologies, the King Stallion is designed to lift 14 tons at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in Navy high/hot environments - three times the baseline CH-53E lift capability.
The CH-53K program is currently on track to provide an initial operating capability in 2019, with a procurement objective for 200 helicopters.
Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Oct 27, 2015