Lockheed Martin on April 4, 2017, announced the CH-53K King Stallion program successfully passed its Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review and achieved a Milestone C decision that enables Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) funding.
«This affirmative Milestone C decision validates the maturity and the robust capability of the King Stallion in meeting the United States Marine Corps mission requirements», said Doctor Michael Torok, Sikorsky vice president, CH-53K King Stallion Programs. «This establishes the CH-53K King Stallion as a production program and marks another critical step toward our goal of delivering this tremendous capability to the USMC».
Numerous, successfully completed pre-requisites preceded the Milestone C decision. Supplier as well as prime contractor Production Readiness Reviews took place throughout 2016 to establish the program’s readiness to move into low rate initial production. Aircraft maturity was established well in advance with over 400 flight hours achieved, and the October 2016 initial Operational Assessment by the USMC fully established the ability of the CH-53K King Stallion to achieve critical mission flight and ground scenarios in the hands of active duty Marines. Overall, post evaluation interviews of aircrew, ground crew and flight surgeons revealed a high regard for the operational capability demonstrated by the CH-53K King Stallion.
«We have just successfully launched the production of the most powerful helicopter our nation has ever designed. This incredible positive step function in capability is going to revolutionize the way our nation conducts business in the battlespace by ensuring a substantial increase in logistical throughput into that battlespace. I could not be prouder of our government-contractor team for making this happen», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.
The CH-53K King Stallion provides unmatched heavy lift capability with three times the lift of the CH-53E Super Stallion that it replaces. With more than triple the payload capability and a 12-inch wider internal cabin compared to the predecessor, the CH-53K King Stallion’s increased payloads can range from multiple U.S. Air Force standard 463L pallets to an internally loaded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or a European Fennek armored personnel carrier, to up to three independent external loads at once. This provides extraordinary mission flexibility and system efficiency.
The CH-53K King Stallion also offers enhanced safety features for the warfighter, including full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management that reduce pilot workload and enable the crew to focus on mission execution as the CH-53K King Stallion all but «flies itself». Other features include advanced stability augmentation, flight control modes that include attitude command-velocity hold, automated approach to a stabilized hover, position hold and precision tasks in degraded visual environments, and tactile cueing that all permit the pilot to focus confidently on the mission at hand.
Further, the CH-53K King Stallion has improved reliability and maintainability that exceeds 89% mission reliability with a smaller shipboard logistics footprint than the legacy CH-53E Super Stallion.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The first six of the 200 are under contract and scheduled to start delivery next year to the USMC. Two additional aircraft, the first LRIP aircraft, are under long lead procurement for parts and materials, with deliveries scheduled to start in 2020. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.
|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