Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, announced on March 14 the second CH-53K King Stallion helicopter has joined the flight test program and achieved first flight. In addition, the first aircraft into the test program has achieved flight envelope expansion to 120 knots/138 mph/222 km/h for the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter program.
«Adding a second aircraft into flight status signifies another milestone for the CH-53K program», said Mike Torok, Sikorsky’s vice president of CH-53K King Stallion Programs. «With both aircraft in flight test, our flight envelope expansion efforts will accelerate as we continue to make good progress toward our initial operational test assessment and full aircraft system qualification».
The first and second CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter Engineering Development Models (EDM) achieved their first flights on October 27, 2015, and January 22, 2016, respectively. To date these helicopters have achieved over 35 flight hours combined including multiple flights with an active duty USMC pilot at the controls. As the flight test program proceeds, these two flying CH-53K helicopters will be joined by two additional aircraft to complete flight qualification of the USMC’s next generation heavy lift capability over an approximately three-year flight test program.
These first two aircraft are the most heavily instrumented of the Engineering Development Models (EDM) and will focus on structural flight loads and envelope expansion. When the other two EDM aircraft join the flight line in 2016 they will focus on performance, propulsion and avionics flight qualification.
«It is exciting to have two CH-53K helicopters flying», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters. «Our program continues on pace to deploy this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters».
Sikorsky is now developing the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps. The King Stallion maintains similar physical dimensions with a reduced «footprint» compared to its predecessor, the three-engine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, but will more than triple the payload to 27,000 pounds/12,247 kg over 110 nautical miles/126.6 miles/204 km under «high hot» ambient conditions.
Features of the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter include a modern glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth-generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking, United States Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and improved reliability, maintainability and supportability.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s program of record remains at 200 CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The U.S. 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