The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is the heavy-lift transport helicopter that was built for serving the USMC (United States Marine Corps) by the Sikorsky Aircraft company. The design of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is an improvement on the following features as compared to its previous variants.
- 7500 shp engines that amount to a power of 5590 kW
- Stylish and new rotor blades
- a wider cabin
At the moment this is the heaviest and the largest helicopter serving in US military. A contract has been signed between USMC and Sikorsky Aircraft that will see the Marine Corps having delivery of nearly 200 of these Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallions for a total sum of 25 billion dollars.
The ground testing for this aircraft started back in 2014 with the maiden test flight of the helicopter being held on October 27trh 2015 and the very first of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallions was delivered to US Marine Crops back in 2018.
For our readers today we have gathered a bunch of interesting facts about the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion which are as follows.
As we said earlier in our intro, the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion comes with a larger cockpit as well as powerful engines; it has twice the cargo lifting capabilities when compared with the Super Stallion. A single Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is able to lift a cargo weighing about 27000 pounds externally with hooks for a distance of 110 Nautical miles. Due to the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion having wider cargo hold, it is also able to house in HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) internally. The aircraft with its ability to work in all kind of weather conditions and this much weight lifting capabilities; it is surely one of the best heavy lift helicopters that will eventually start serving the USMC.
A machine for Marines
Due to the United States War On Terror and the role of USMC in this war, their aging fleet of the CH-53E Super Stallions nearly served triple than its deuced usage life. The average usage life of the CH-53E Super Stallion has now gone well past 15 years that has left the majority of them in roughed up condition and now they require huge manpower just for maintenance. With these problems, the number of the helicopters in flyable condition have been decreasing that caused USMC to forcefully pull back some of the decommissioned helicopters from the boneyard located in Davis Monthan Air Force base to serve the military once more.
In order to overcome these issues of using aging helicopters, Marine Corps issued a contract named Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) Program to the Sikorsky Aircraft back in 2005 to design a new powerful and more resilient helicopter. The program started its work in the very same year and after nearly a decade the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion became a reality.
The USMC’s HLR program was authorized by the Acquisition Decision Memorandum back in August of 2005 and granted it to Sikorsky Aircraft. Although the contract was not an exclusive one it was still given a go-ahead back in December of 2005 for starring its developmental phase. As for the Preliminary and the Integrated Design Reviews they were conducted back in 2008 and 2010.
The initial HLR Program granted to Sikorsky was for 156 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallions but back in April 2006 after review and the promise the new helicopter showed, the contract was increased to 200 helicopters. This was also carried out in order to meet up with the demands and needs of the Marie Crops growth over the years. The initial price of the HLR program was about 18.7 billion dollars but with these changes in demand, the contract rose to an amount of 25.5 billion dollars.
By the time 2010 ended, US Marine Corps had already pulled back all of the decommissioned CH-53Ds and the CH-53Es for use from the boneyard leaving nothing behind.
This led the program to have an urgency to finish that caused the first ground test of the CH-53K to take place on July of 2011 but the haste caused the program to be delayed by one more year. The first flyable prototype of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion took its first flight back in January of 2012.
After spending nearly 1 decade on several designs and prototype building, the very first actual Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion was available for test flight back on October of 2015 but it was still 7 months behind its schedule and also had troubles in its main gearbox. Finally, in 2016, the key requirement of the USMC was met in the helicopter as it flew above the ground while carrying a payload of 27000 pounds externally. This was nearly the triple the weight of the payload that the previous CH-53E could lift.
At the moment, the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion has not been entered in the USMC for active service duty but once it does, it will take on the same mission roles as its predecessor CH-53E Super Stallion. The roles that Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion can most likely carry are as follows.
- Transportation of troops as well as equipment from the shipboard positions to the inland bases
- Recovery for the damaged vehicles as well as the equipment that is heavy for recovery by wheels or in places from where these assets cannot be easily recovered
- Evacuation of army troops and other personals from the warring and disaster-stricken zones
- Medical evacuation of both troops and civilians to the locations to get them follow-on care