Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, hosted a ‘first of its kind’ orientation flight in the CH-53K King Stallion for Brigadier General Nir Nin-Nun, Israeli Air Force, Commander, Air Support and Helicopter Division, during a test flight November 7.
The 90-minute orientation flight included various operational maneuvers, landings and takeoffs, providing Nin-Nun a firsthand look at the unique and capabilities of the CH-53K King Stallion available through full authority fly-by-wire flight controls.
«This is the first time we have flown an international ally in the CH-53K», said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Hank Vanderborght, program manager for the H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters program office, PMA-261. «Flights like this give us an opportunity to strengthen relationships with our allies while sharing a taste of America’s next generation heavy lift helicopter».
The flight was arranged based on a government-to-government request from Brig. Gen. Nin-Nun and made possible through a contract modification between Sikorsky and NAVAIR.
«It was a great honor being hosted by the Marines and having a chance to fly on two outstanding platforms as we ramp up to decide on our future heavy lift», said Nin-Nun.
The orientation flight was conducted during an already planned test flight and piloted by Stephen McCulley, Sikorsky chief experimental test pilot. Prior to the flight, Brigadier General Nin-Nun completed a familiarization flight in the simulator and safety brief prior to take-off.
The two-day visit also included simulator flights, relevant program briefs, and a tour of the NAVAIR Internal Cargo Lab.
Currently, there are four Engineering Development and Manufacturing Model aircraft in test and one Ground Test Vehicle, which have logged more than 606 cumulative flight hours. Initial operational capability remains on pace for 2019 and is defined as having four aircraft, with combat-ready crews logistically prepared to deploy. The DOD’s program of record remains at 200 aircraft.
PMA-261 continually works with international partners through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program to potentially meet the international partners’ heavy lift helicopter requirements. FMS aircraft increase the total aircraft procured above the program of record and will decrease the unit cost for all users.
With more than triple the payload capability and a 12-inch/30.5-cm wider internal cabin than its predecessor (CH-53E Super Stallion), the CH-53K’s payload capability can take the form of a variety of relevant payloads ranging from an internally loaded High Mobility, Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or the European Fennek armored personnel carrier. In addition, it can handle up to three independent external loads at once, which gives mission flexibility and system efficiency.
|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