US Marines’ CH-53K Helicopter Lifts F-35C for First Time

A US Marine Corps CH-53K King Stallion helicopter lifted an inoperable F-35 Lightning II fighter jet in a recent trial.

The test was conducted to refine tactics, techniques, and procedures for the service’s Helicopter Support Team, according to the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

The lift was meant to “evaluate the load and inform future lift capabilities” of the chopper.

During the trial, personnel from the Combat Logistics Battalion – 24 prepared the F-35 for transport by attaching chains to its airframe.

The aircraft was then hooked to the CH-53K before the helicopter took off and lifted the jet into the air.

While the King Stallion is designed to carry heavy payloads, the exercise was the first time it had lifted an F-35 fighter.

“This type of mission is precisely what the K was designed and built to do,” program manager Col. Kate Fleeger said. “It continues to prove its value in support of Marine Corps operations, transporting equipment that no other rotary wing platform can lift.”

‘Most Powerful Helicopter’

As a replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion, the CH-53K can transport troops, heavy equipment, and supplies during ship-to-shore operations.

The “most powerful helicopter” ever built by the US, the Super Stallion can carry payloads of up to 14 tons (27,000 pounds/12,247 kilograms).

The F-35C aircraft that the helicopter recently lifted weighed 22,000 pounds (9,979 kilograms) without its propulsion system.

According to NAVAIR, the chopper has been fitted with state-of-the-art fly-by-wire technology for reduced pilot workload and improved aircraft stability.

The first CH-53K King Stallion was delivered to the US Marine Corps in 2018, and the service plans to acquire 200 more in coming years.

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