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US Marine CH-53K Heavy-Lift Helicopter Begins Initial Testing

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has begun initial operations testing of its CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced Monday.

Four King Stallions were scheduled to begin the final phase of testing this summer before their induction in 2023, Vertical Magazine wrote in Apri

“The CH-53K King Stallion officially enters Initial Operational Test and Evaluation as the #MarineCorps’ Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations vertical, long-range, heavy-lift, logistics backbone!” NAVAIR wrote on Twitter.

Replacement for CH-53E 

Built by Sikorsky, the King Stallion is set to replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, which was inducted in 1981.

The Marines are considering buying 200 Sikorsky King Stallions. The Connecticut-based aircraft manufacturer is currently contracted to deliver 33 aircraft, nine of which will begin delivery in 2024.

The aircraft has been designed to enhance the “fleet’s ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility” according to NAVAIR.

Can Lift 11-Ton Vehicle

The rotorcraft is suitable for a range of missions including combat search and rescue, special operations, medical evacuation/transport, and tactical movement of cargo and personnel.

The helicopter can lift nearly 14 tons (27,000 lbs/12,247 kg) with an operating radius of 110 nautical miles (203 km/126 miles), which translates to lifting an 11-ton heavy Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), plus two tons of supplies, Forbes wrote.

The aircraft can be refueled mid-air and has a wider cabin (30 cm/12 in) than its predecessor, which allows it to transport more cargo or troops in fewer trips.

Its 170 knots (315 km/hour or 196 mph) cruise speed is 20 knots (37 km/hr or 23 mph) faster than the Super Stallion.

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