CH-53K IOC pushed back to 2021 for multiple design deficiencies


By Dario Leone
Apr 8 2017
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The CH-53K King Stallion is aimed to replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which has operated as the backbone of field logistics for the USMC since the mid-1980s

On Apr. 4, 2017 the Pentagon has approved the U.S. Navy’s request for the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter program to enter into the Production and Deployment.

“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,” explained Col Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.

NAVAIR said in a press release that production is expected to begin in June.2017 at Sikorsky’s facility in Stratford, Conn., and that each helicopter has a flyaway cost of $87.1 million.

Noteworthy a Defense Department official had told Reuters Reuters that the contract calls for the production of 200 CH-53Ks.

The new helicopter is able to lift 36,000 pounds and is aimed to replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which has operated as the backbone of field logistics for the USMC since the mid-1980s.

With four aircraft in test, the CH-53K has logged over cumulative flight hours to date.

Initial operational capability (IOC) continues on pace for 2019 and is defined as having four aircraft, with combat-ready crews, logistically prepared to deploy.

The USMC wants to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.

Actually the CH-53K King Stallion provides three times the heavy-lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53E. This increased payload capability can take the form of a variety of relevant payloads ranging from an internally loaded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or the European Fennek armored personnel carrier, and up to three independent external loads at once, which gives incredible mission flexibility and system efficiency.

Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Molly Hampton / U.S. Marine Corps

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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