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CH-53K begins rotor blade ground tests

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 5, 2014
The CH-53K ground test vehicle conducts the first blades on test in late April. (Sikorsky)
The CH-53K ground test vehicle conducts the first blades on test in late April. (Sikorsky)

Sikorsky has commenced full system testing of its CH-53K heavy lift helicopter ground test vehicle with all seven main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades attached.

The tests follow the previous ‘light off’ and ‘bare head’ test phases which saw the aircraft’s engines started and gearbox engaged for the first time, and is the start of a two-year test program of the GTV’s entire dynamic component system.

“This is another key milestone in our building block approach to maturing the aircraft system,” Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program vice president, Mike Torok said in a statement. “The aircraft is now fully configured to proceed to the next series of system integration tests that will further validate the aircraft systems, such as rotors, drive, electrical, hydraulic, avionics and flight controls – all leading to operational acceptance testing that will clear the flight aircraft for flight operations.”

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Sikorsky expects to commence a 2,000 hour flight test campaign in late 2014. The 39,916 kg MTOW CH-53K will replace the US Marine Corps’ fleet of CH-53Es in service from 2017.

25% off starts now! Australian Aviation magazine Cyber Monday sale is now live. Have the very best of Australian Aviation’s annual print and digital subscription. This includes every In Focus and Behind the Lens digital magazine, special coverage, exclusive photos and editions you may have miss. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

8 Comments

  • Ben

    says:

    I really think the RAN should have a small flight of these for use on the LHD’s.

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Why? We have Chinooks.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Raymond

    says:

    Not enough of them though. We’ll be replacing 6 Delta models with 7 Foxtrot models (at least we’re getting more I suppose). However, if they’ll also be utilised on the LHD’s, there should be at least a couple more airframes at the minimum (each LHD can support simultaneous take off and landing operations of four Chinooks).

  • Jason

    says:

    I agree with Ben

    I’m no expert, but one thing I do know is that the CH-53K is marinised unlike the Aussie Chinooks (Though I did read some where that the RAF was looking into this for their Chinooks)
    Another point is that the Chinooks will require dis-assembly and re-assembly every time one enters or leaves the LHD lower and upper decks.
    Don’t think this would be the case with the CH-53K. (Built to fit and move around LHD’s)
    The number of CH-47F obtained by the Army will not be sufficient if they decide to incorporate onto both the LHD’s !
    The ADF must look into equipment/machines better suited to the LHD aswell as both sea and land if its serious about adapting to an Amphibious role.
    I’m interested to hear other peoples thoughts about this topic !

  • John N

    says:

    CH-53K’s for the ADF? I don’t think so!

    The last thing the ADF needs is another ‘type’ of helicopter, most likely in small numbers to introduce into service, so much for one of the goals of AIR 9000 in rationalising the number of types in service!

    Seriously, how often will it be likely that CH-47F’s will operate off the LHD’s? More than likely the main type that will occupy the decks and hangars of the LHD’s is the MRH-90’s, and in fact there may be an increased need for more MRH-90’s to fill the Army’s land based and expanded amphibious roles.

    One solution that crossed my mind is for the RAN to hand back it’s 6 MRH-90’s to Army, would increase the pool of airframes available to Army, obviously the RAN would need to fill that gap.

    With the RAN soon to introduce the first of the 24 MH-60R’s into the anti-sub /anti-surface role, a batch of 6-8 MH-60S airframes could fill that utility role, the MH-60S has many common features with the R’s, including blade folding system and the same glass cockpit too, makes sense to me!

    Does the ADF need more CH-47F’s? You probably can’t have to much heavy lift! But that question probably won’t be answered until all the new F’s are in service. The choices of what happens to the D’s might include, retirement (scrap?), on-sell to someone else or possibly back trade to Boeing for some more F’s, maybe the money and justification can be found and made for another batch to bring the fleet of F’s up to 10-12 airframes. The problem with such a small fleet, seven, is that if one or two airframes are written off (as was the case in Afghanistan), then it puts a lot of pressure on the remaining (small) fleet to do the job it is tasked with and then you have to start looking at attrition replacements to fill that gap.

    On the question of if CH-53K’s could operate off and be stored in the hangar of the LHD’s, that I don’t know, but I have seen some photos/video of a Chinook being parked in the hangar of the Spanish JC1 and there didn’t appear to be much head room available. According to Wiki, the Chinook is 5.7m tall, the CH-53K is 8.46m tall, that’s a lot of extra height to accommodate! Regardless, I can’t ever see that we are going to go down that path anyway.

    Cheers,

    John N

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Not suggesting anything here, but I remember an interesting conversation I had with a senior officer in Helicopter Systems Division (who has since retired) a few years ago when I asked about what will happen to the CH-47Ds when the Fs arrive…he said he was going to hand them back “over his dead body!”

      Cheers

      Andrew

  • Raymond

    says:

    From the RAAF Museum’s website:

    “In 1969 the government approved the purchase of 12 medium-lift helicopters for the RAAF. The two contenders for the medium-lift helicopter role were the Boeing-Vertol CH-47 Chinook and the Sikorsky CH-53 ‘Jolly Green Giant’. The CH-47C Chinook was selected, and this was announced by the Defence Minister on 19 August 1970. An order for 12 helicopters was placed on 6 March 1972, making the RAAF the first foreign customer for the Chinook.”

    So, two things… firstly, the CH-47 was chosen over the CH-53 originally and it would be unrealistic to operate both, and secondly, we originally operated 12 examples of the Charlie model, then 4 Delta’s before this was increased to 6; with Chinooks potentially also being operated from the LHD’s now entering service, wouldn’t a number closer to 12 rather than 6 or 7 be appropriate?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      The CH-53 of the late 1960s is a totally different machine to the CH-53K, so it’s an apples and oranges comparison there. But then again, the CH-47F is vast improvement on the CH-47C.

      I always thought the Brits got the Chinook before us…

      The reason we traded 12 CH-47Cs in on just four (and later two, and even later, one more) CH-47Ds was because they are frightfully expensive to operate, and we were using them basically to cart around fuel bladders for the Black Hawks. But now that the Chinook has gained an assault role, there is probably a fair justification for a larger fleet. But then, we have a “budget emergency…”

      Cheers

      Andrew

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CH-53K begins rotor blade ground tests

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 5, 2014
The CH-53K ground test vehicle conducts the first blades on test in late April. (Sikorsky)
The CH-53K ground test vehicle conducts the first blades on test in late April. (Sikorsky)

Sikorsky has commenced full system testing of its CH-53K heavy lift helicopter ground test vehicle with all seven main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades attached.

The tests follow the previous ‘light off’ and ‘bare head’ test phases which saw the aircraft’s engines started and gearbox engaged for the first time, and is the start of a two-year test program of the GTV’s entire dynamic component system.

“This is another key milestone in our building block approach to maturing the aircraft system,” Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program vice president, Mike Torok said in a statement. “The aircraft is now fully configured to proceed to the next series of system integration tests that will further validate the aircraft systems, such as rotors, drive, electrical, hydraulic, avionics and flight controls – all leading to operational acceptance testing that will clear the flight aircraft for flight operations.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Sikorsky expects to commence a 2,000 hour flight test campaign in late 2014. The 39,916 kg MTOW CH-53K will replace the US Marine Corps’ fleet of CH-53Es in service from 2017.

25% off starts now! Australian Aviation magazine Cyber Monday sale is now live. Have the very best of Australian Aviation’s annual print and digital subscription. This includes every In Focus and Behind the Lens digital magazine, special coverage, exclusive photos and editions you may have miss. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

8 Comments

  • Ben

    says:

    I really think the RAN should have a small flight of these for use on the LHD’s.

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Why? We have Chinooks.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Raymond

    says:

    Not enough of them though. We’ll be replacing 6 Delta models with 7 Foxtrot models (at least we’re getting more I suppose). However, if they’ll also be utilised on the LHD’s, there should be at least a couple more airframes at the minimum (each LHD can support simultaneous take off and landing operations of four Chinooks).

  • Jason

    says:

    I agree with Ben

    I’m no expert, but one thing I do know is that the CH-53K is marinised unlike the Aussie Chinooks (Though I did read some where that the RAF was looking into this for their Chinooks)
    Another point is that the Chinooks will require dis-assembly and re-assembly every time one enters or leaves the LHD lower and upper decks.
    Don’t think this would be the case with the CH-53K. (Built to fit and move around LHD’s)
    The number of CH-47F obtained by the Army will not be sufficient if they decide to incorporate onto both the LHD’s !
    The ADF must look into equipment/machines better suited to the LHD aswell as both sea and land if its serious about adapting to an Amphibious role.
    I’m interested to hear other peoples thoughts about this topic !

  • John N

    says:

    CH-53K’s for the ADF? I don’t think so!

    The last thing the ADF needs is another ‘type’ of helicopter, most likely in small numbers to introduce into service, so much for one of the goals of AIR 9000 in rationalising the number of types in service!

    Seriously, how often will it be likely that CH-47F’s will operate off the LHD’s? More than likely the main type that will occupy the decks and hangars of the LHD’s is the MRH-90’s, and in fact there may be an increased need for more MRH-90’s to fill the Army’s land based and expanded amphibious roles.

    One solution that crossed my mind is for the RAN to hand back it’s 6 MRH-90’s to Army, would increase the pool of airframes available to Army, obviously the RAN would need to fill that gap.

    With the RAN soon to introduce the first of the 24 MH-60R’s into the anti-sub /anti-surface role, a batch of 6-8 MH-60S airframes could fill that utility role, the MH-60S has many common features with the R’s, including blade folding system and the same glass cockpit too, makes sense to me!

    Does the ADF need more CH-47F’s? You probably can’t have to much heavy lift! But that question probably won’t be answered until all the new F’s are in service. The choices of what happens to the D’s might include, retirement (scrap?), on-sell to someone else or possibly back trade to Boeing for some more F’s, maybe the money and justification can be found and made for another batch to bring the fleet of F’s up to 10-12 airframes. The problem with such a small fleet, seven, is that if one or two airframes are written off (as was the case in Afghanistan), then it puts a lot of pressure on the remaining (small) fleet to do the job it is tasked with and then you have to start looking at attrition replacements to fill that gap.

    On the question of if CH-53K’s could operate off and be stored in the hangar of the LHD’s, that I don’t know, but I have seen some photos/video of a Chinook being parked in the hangar of the Spanish JC1 and there didn’t appear to be much head room available. According to Wiki, the Chinook is 5.7m tall, the CH-53K is 8.46m tall, that’s a lot of extra height to accommodate! Regardless, I can’t ever see that we are going to go down that path anyway.

    Cheers,

    John N

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Not suggesting anything here, but I remember an interesting conversation I had with a senior officer in Helicopter Systems Division (who has since retired) a few years ago when I asked about what will happen to the CH-47Ds when the Fs arrive…he said he was going to hand them back “over his dead body!”

      Cheers

      Andrew

  • Raymond

    says:

    From the RAAF Museum’s website:

    “In 1969 the government approved the purchase of 12 medium-lift helicopters for the RAAF. The two contenders for the medium-lift helicopter role were the Boeing-Vertol CH-47 Chinook and the Sikorsky CH-53 ‘Jolly Green Giant’. The CH-47C Chinook was selected, and this was announced by the Defence Minister on 19 August 1970. An order for 12 helicopters was placed on 6 March 1972, making the RAAF the first foreign customer for the Chinook.”

    So, two things… firstly, the CH-47 was chosen over the CH-53 originally and it would be unrealistic to operate both, and secondly, we originally operated 12 examples of the Charlie model, then 4 Delta’s before this was increased to 6; with Chinooks potentially also being operated from the LHD’s now entering service, wouldn’t a number closer to 12 rather than 6 or 7 be appropriate?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      The CH-53 of the late 1960s is a totally different machine to the CH-53K, so it’s an apples and oranges comparison there. But then again, the CH-47F is vast improvement on the CH-47C.

      I always thought the Brits got the Chinook before us…

      The reason we traded 12 CH-47Cs in on just four (and later two, and even later, one more) CH-47Ds was because they are frightfully expensive to operate, and we were using them basically to cart around fuel bladders for the Black Hawks. But now that the Chinook has gained an assault role, there is probably a fair justification for a larger fleet. But then, we have a “budget emergency…”

      Cheers

      Andrew

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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