The first Sikorsky CH-53K has been rolled out at a ceremony at the company’s Long Beach facility in Florida.
Named King Stallion as a tribute to its CH-53E Sea Stallion lineage, the new CH-53K is a larger and almost completely new machine with far greater capabilities, despite sharing a similar mould line.
“The rollout of the CH-53K helicopter introduces a new era in Marine Corps aviation and is an exciting milestone in our company’s 91 year history,” Sikorsky president Mick Maurer said at the rollout. “The CH-53K aircraft will effectively triple the external load carrying capacity of the CH-53E aircraft — to more than [13,000kg] over a mission radius of [200km]. With its [42,000kg] maximum gross weight, powerful new engines, lightweight composite structure, new rotor blades and fly-by-wire flight controls, the CH-53K will have the means to move troops and equipment from ship to shore, and to higher altitude terrain, more quickly and effectively than ever before.”
The CH-53K is powered by three GE T408 engines which provide 57 per cent more power while using 20 per cent less fuel than the CH-53E’s T64 turboshafts.
The USMC has a requirement for more than 200 CH-53Ks to replace its Vietnam-era CH-53Es, with service entry expected to commence in 2017. Ground engine and dynamic component testing is well underway, and flight trials will start later this year.