Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Morel became the first U.S. Marine to fly the Corps’ CH-53K helicopter December 18, 2015 at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Morel, a test pilot with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 21, and former Weapons and Tactics Instructor with HMH-466 «Wolfpack», took off in Engineering Development Model 1 at 10:30 a.m. to conduct direct mode mechanical stability and hover flight control response data collection.
The flight test ran for 1.5 hours and now marks the sixth flight for the CH-53K. «The aircraft flew very close to the way the simulators and engineers predicted it would», said Morel. «The aircraft was quite stable and handled very predictably. You can feel the huge amount of power and overall, it definitely felt like a 53. Marines are going to love to fly this aircraft».
The King Stallion entered flight test phase on October 27, 2015. «This flight brings us to 8.2 hours on the first test aircraft, and our second test aircraft is almost ready to start flying», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght a U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the heavy lift helicopter program. «The program remains on track for initial operational capability in 2019».
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 be one of the key enablers of future joint war-fighting concepts by drastically expanding the fleet’s logistical throughput through the joint area of responsibility. Using proven and matured technologies, the King Stallion is designed to lift a 27,000-pound/12,247-kilogram external load at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles/126.6 miles/203.7 km in Navy high/hot environments – three times the CH-53E lift capability.
|Number of Engines||3|
|T408 Engine||7,500 shp/5,595 kw|
|Maximum Gross Weight (Internal Load)||74,000 lbs/33,566 kg|
|Maximum Gross Weight (External Load)||88,000 lbs/39,916 kg|
|Cruise Speed||141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h|
|Range||460 NM/530 miles/852 km|
|AEO* Service Ceiling||14,380 feet/4,383 m|
|HIGE** Ceiling (MAGW)||13,630 feet/4,155 m|
|HOGE*** Ceiling (MAGW)||10,080 feet/3,073 m|
|Cabin Length||30 feet/9.1 m|
|Cabin Width||9 feet/2.7 m|
|Cabin Height||6.5 feet/2.0 m|
|Cabin Area||264.47 feet2/24.57 m2|
|Cabin Volume||1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3|
* All Engines Operating
** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect
*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect