MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, NC – The CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter now powers an operational marine heavy helicopter squadron, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing said Jan. 25.
A January 24 ceremony in New River marked the transition of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (HMH-461) from the CH-53E Super Stallion to the CH-53K.
“Today our Marine Corps has gotten a little stronger,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Cederholm, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, describing the significance of the transition from HMH-461 to the CH-53K. . “It is only fitting that the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and in particular Marine Corps Air Station New River, be the first to receive the newest land and maritime heavy helicopter, as that is where the support for Marine Corps Assault. Placing the CH-53K King Stallion in the hands of our warfighters will ensure that we capitalize on the unique qualities and characteristics of the 53K and allow 2nd MAW to continue to provide the best aeronautical support to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force at this time, and well into our future.
The CH-53K is designed to lift nearly 14 tons (27,000 pounds) within a mission radius of 110 nautical miles, in high and hot environments. It can lift almost triple the basic lift capacity of the CH-53E. It is also designed to have a smaller onboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft and fewer direct maintenance hours per flight hour. The CH-53K is expected to externally lift two armored high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, light armored vehicles and double-jointed light tactical vehicles. It features a cabin section 12 inches wider than the CH-53E that can internally load two AMC 463L pallets or five AMC 463L half-pallets or internally load a Humvee.
The CH-53K leverages an open architecture design of the Next Generation Glass Cockpit Common Avionics Architecture System; utilizes triple-redundant fly-by-wire controls adding further improvements in survivability, safety, and maintainability; features fourth-generation high-efficiency composite rotor blades with swept anhedral tips; and takes advantage of a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head.
“Quite simply, 2nd MAW will be able to move more troops and equipment, at higher altitudes, at faster speeds and through more austere environments than ever before,” Cederholm said. “We continue to become a more modernized and lethal force, so when the time comes, we will uphold the motto of II Marine Expeditionary Force: ‘Come to fight – Come to win.’ I am so proud of the Marines and Sailors of 2nd MAW and find it fitting that they are a part of this moment in Marine Corps aviation history.
The Marine Corps plans to field eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron and two reserve squadrons to meet operational requirements. The CH-53K is currently on track to deploy to the fleet as required by the Marine Corps in fiscal year 2024.