US Marines from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) successfully conducted over-the-horizon heavy lift and troop transport ship-to-shore operations using CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. The first such exercise by the Marine Corps, the operation was conducted between November 19 and 21 over the Atlantic Ocean.
Such military exercises are “a critical component of the Marine Corps’ future force operating concepts, such as expeditionary advanced base operations and distributed operations,” a Marine Corps statement said.
“We are excited to continue advancing the Commandant’s vision of the future force by partnering with the Navy and finding ways to optimize how we operate and thrive in a strategic competition environment,” VMX-1 Commanding Officer Col Byron Sullivan said.
Testing and Evaluation
VMX-1 is currently evaluating the King Stallion’s ability to transport a 27,000-lb light-armored vehicle (LAV-25) from a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship to a landing zone ashore. It is progressing through initial tests before deployment with the Fleet Marine Force.
As per the official statement, VMX-1 soldiers will put the aircraft through rigorous evaluations in order to determine its suitability and effectiveness before arriving to the fleet.
The CH-53K is considered critical in providing logistics support to deployed and distributed forces. The aircraft has been designed to provide greater payload capability in challenging environments, both at sea-level and at higher altitudes.
In September, CH-53K King Stallions from VMX-1 successfully completed the recovery of a downed Navy MH-60S helicopter north of Bishop in California. The aircraft lifted a 15,200-lb search and rescue helicopter at an altitude of over 12,000 feet above sea level.