The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter has completed initial operational trials prior to induction into the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
Operational trials, which began in 2022, were completed earlier this month, with plans to put the plane into service later this year.
The company’s manufacturing plant in Stratford currently has seven helicopters under construction and will initially manufacture 47 more units. The US Navy plans to acquire 200 CH-53Ks in total.
About Sikorsky CH-53K
First flown in 2015, the CH-53K King Stallion is a sea-based helicopter designed to replace the CH-53E heavy-lift helicopter used to transport marines and equipment from ships to beaches.
The USMC plans to deploy the King Stallions to eight active, two reserve, two developmental tests, and one fleet replacement squadron.
The long-range helicopter is designed to provide three times the lift capacity of its predecessor. Capable of lifting over 18 tons, the large cargo plane can transport armored vehicles, equipment and personnel for operations at sea.
It can operate in high temperatures and at altitudes up to 18,500 feet (5.6 kilometers), flying at 200 knots (370 kilometers/230 miles per hour).
Full operational capability of the new fleet is planned for 2030 with the transition of the last active squadron.
CH-53K helicopters for Israel
Sikorsky is also preparing to build the CH-53K for Israel. Last week, US Naval Air Systems Command officials announced a $52.5 million order from the company for full-rate production of the plane for the Israeli military.
In February last year, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced that it had chosen the CH-53K over Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook. The Sikorskys will replace the 50-year-old CH-53D Sea Stallion Yasur helicopter.