Initial Operational Capability

Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lieutenant General Mark Wise announced the Marine Corps has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in the CH-53K King Stallion on April 22, 2022. This plan supports General Berger’s Force Design 2030 by improving capabilities and restructuring Marine Corps aviation for the future fight.

CH-53K King Stallion
Marine Corps declares Initial Operational Capability for CH-53K King Stallion

In addition to meeting IOC criteria, the CH-53K King Stallion successfully completed a thorough initial operational test and evaluation period that resulted in over 3,000 mishap free hours flown in various challenging environments and terrain.

«My full confidence in the CH-53K’s ability to execute the heavy lift mission is the result of successful developmental and operational testing conducted by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1», said Wise.

The CH-53K King Stallion is an optimized vertical, heavy lift, sea-based, long-range solution for the naval force and will immediately provide nearly three times the lift capability of the CH-53E Super Stallion, with the ability to transport one hundred percent of the vertical Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Per the Commandant’s Force Design 2030 Annual Update, the CH-53K King Stallion will complement connectors that will enable littoral maneuver and provide logistical support to a widely disaggregated naval force.

«The success to date of the CH-53K King Stallion is a reflection of the hard work and effort by the Marines, sailors, and civilians at VMX-1, H-53 Program Office (PMA-261), and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461, and the support we have received over many years from across the Department of the Navy and our industry partners», said Wise.

The CH-53K King Stallion boasts an engine that produces 57% more horsepower with 63% fewer parts relative to its predecessor, which translates to an expanded capability to deliver internal and external cargo loads, providing the commander a mobility and sustainment capability the MAGTF has never had before.

The most notable attribute of the CH-53K King Stallion is its ability to maintain increased performance margins in a degraded aeronautical environment, for example at higher altitudes, hotter climates and carrying up to 27,000 lbs./12,247 kg out to 110 nautical miles/127 miles/204 km; whereas, the CH-53E Super Stallion would be limited to a 9,628-pound/4,367-kg external load in the same environment.

The Marine Corps plans to deploy the first CH-53K King Stallion Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) detachment in fiscal year 2024, setting the initial conditions for sustained CH-53K King Stallion deployments in support of MEUs.


General Characteristics

Number of Engines 3
Engine Type T408-GE-400
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