The new CH-53K King Stallion, the most powerful helicopter ever used by the United States, passed the in-flight refueling test. The tests were carried out as part of the final stage of development tests and were recognized as completely successful, demonstrating the aircraft’s long-range logistical support capabilities by connecting itself to one of the baskets of a KC-130J.
CH-53K air refueling test was conducted during a 4.5-hour flight over the Chesapeake Bay located in the eastern United States. During the flight, US Marine Specialists onboard evaluated the effect of the aerodynamic track of the refueling aircraft and demonstrated that the crew could perfectly handle the forces from the refueling probe to the aircraft.
“The aircraft was able to meet the desired performance for all engagements,” said Perrin. “The ‘K’ is the long-range enabler that we need now and into the future.”
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter being developed by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps as a replacement for the current CH-53E Super Stallion. The machine made its first flight in October 2015, and in 2018, the U.S. Marine Corps began preliminary flight tests of King Stallion.
The CH-53K design features three 5,590 kW engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider cockpit than previous CH-53 variants. The maximum take-off weight of the new transport helicopter is 39.9 tons and can carry loads of up to 12.2 tons on an external sling. The combat radius of the helicopter is about 200 kilometers. The CH-53K, equipped with three GE38-1B engines, has a maximum cruise speed of 315 km/h (196 mph) and a maximum range of 841km (522 miles).
It will carry Marines, heavy equipment, and supplies during the ship-to-shore movement in support of the amphibious assault and ground operations.
By the end of 2020, the CH-53K will have to go through a series of tests, and in 2021, the US Marine Corps will begin pilot testing of the helicopter and the first deployment of the fleet in 2023-2024.