Helicopters

CH-53K King Stallion demonstrates long-range logistic support capabilities with first, successful air refueling tests

The 4.5 hour test was accomplished over the Chesapeake Bay with a KC-130J aerial refueling (AR) tanker.

The CH-53K King Stallion recently aced an air-to-air refueling test, successfully demonstrating long-range logistics support capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps. The 4.5 hour test was accomplished over the Chesapeake Bay with a KC-130J aerial refueling (AR) tanker.

“The aircraft went to the tanker this week and it was very successful, proving it is a long-range vertical logistic workhorse,” said Col. Jack Perrin, H-53 heavy lift helicopters (PMA-261) program manager, in NAVAIR News Release.

According to the CH-53K test team, the wake survey test assessed the performance of the aircraft when flying behind the tanker in strong, turbulent air. The aircraft’s crew successfully plugged the drogue, a funnel shaped basket towed behind the KC-130J. These tests were performed at increasing closure rates to ensure the CH-53K can handle the forces on the refueling probe when contacting the drogue during aerial refueling.

“The aircraft was able to meet the desired performance for all engagements,” said Perrin. “The ‘K’ is the long-range enabler that we need now and into the future.”

“The successful air-to-air refueling test reinforces the superior capabilities of the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter and its ability to carry more Marines, cargo and equipment over longer ranges and in more challenging environments than any other rotorcraft in the world. As the only fully marimized heavy lift helicopter, it will allow the Marines the operational flexibility and reach to fly over open waters to complete long-range missions in support of expeditionary advanced base operations,” Bill Falk, Sikorsky program director, CH-53K, pointed out.

The CH-53K King Stallion continues to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K timeline, moving toward completion of developmental test, leading to initial operational test and evaluation in 2021 and first fleet deployment in 2023-2024.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Gabriele Barison

Gabriele Barison is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Co-Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. He has flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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