Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Co., began deliveries of the first of an expected 200 CH-53 King Stallion helicopters to the U.S. Marine Corps fleet last week. This is the replacement for the aging CH-53E Super Stallion fleet. The CH-53E first flew in 1974 and entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1981. The first CH53K heavy lift helicopter will be stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, N.C.
“Our first delivery of a CH-53K to the Marine Corps marks the start of a new generation of true heavy lift helicopter deliveries by Sikorsky that bring unsurpassed and expanded capability across the modern battlefield to provide tremendous mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power, humanitarian assistance, or disaster relief for those in need,” said Dan Schultz, Sikorsky President and former CH-53 pilot. “With 18 additional aircraft in various stages of production already, the entire Sikorsky team, in partnership with our suppliers, is looking forward to additional deliveries to delight our customer.”
As part of the Supportability Test Plan, U.S. Marines will conduct a logistics assessment on the maintenance, sustainment, and overall aviation logistics support of the King Stallion helicopter. The Supportability Test Plan will ensure readiness and support on the flight line when CH-53K helicopters enter service with the USMC. Sikorsky expects to deliver its second CH-53K helicopter to the USMC in early 2019.
“I am very proud of the work accomplished to deliver the most powerful helicopter ever designed into the hands of our Marines,” said Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, deputy commandant for aviation. The helicopter is capable of a flight speed of 200 knots and an altitude of 18,500 ft.