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Sikorsky delivers two more CH-53K King Stallion helicopters to US Marine Corps.

| 2023

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, delivered two CH-53K King Stallion helicopters to the U.S. Marine Corps in the final quarter of 2022. These CH-53K heavy lift helicopters join the seven already in operation at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

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Sikorsky delivers two more CH 53K King Stallion helicopters to US Marine Corps   Sikorsky delivered two CH-53K Helicopters to the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2022. The heavy lift helicopters will be based at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)

“Sikorsky’s employees are using advanced technologies to manufacture the CH-53K helicopter, which increases capabilities and survivability to the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Bill Falk, director Sikorsky CH-53K program. “With the CH-53K’s transformative technologies, more is possible for the Marine Corps and our allies when deterring threats in the changing battlefield landscape.”

The King Stallion is an evolution of the long-running CH-53 series of helicopters which have been in continuous service since 1966, and features three uprated 7,500 shp (5,590 kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider aircraft cabin than its predecessors. It is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military.

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to receive 200 helicopters at a total cost of $25 billion. Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) testing started in April 2014; flight testing began with the maiden flight on 27 October 2015. In May 2018, the first CH-53K was delivered to the Marine Corps. On 22 April 2022, it was declared to have passed initial operational capability. Israel has also reportedly ordered the type; other potential export customers include Japan and Germany.

The CH‑53K’s heavy-lift capabilities exceed all other U.S. Department of Defense rotary wing platforms and is the only heavy-lift helicopter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond. Production is picking up in 2023, as Sikorsky is on track to deliver more multi-mission King Stallion helicopters to the U.S. Marine Corps in 2023.

The U.S Navy declared Full Rate Production for the CH-53K program in December 2022; a decision that is expected to increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years. The expanded production includes twelve (12) aircraft in various stages of production for the government of Israel.

Sikorsky is procuring long-lead items and critical materials to support ramping CH-53K production to full rate production in its digital factory. The CH-53K helicopter will provide many decades of world-wide heavy lift and multi-mission service to the Marine Corps, the Joint Force and the US’ allies.

A full authority digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System (FCS) is one of many impressive capabilities setting the CH-53K King Stallion™ heavy lift helicopter apart from any other heavy lift aircraft. “Full authority” means the FCS provides all the aircraft motion – not just supplementing the pilot for stability. A digital fly-by-wire FCS is an electronic flight control system teamed with a digital computer that replaces mechanical control systems in an aircraft. It makes the aircraft easier to handle in degraded visual environments.

For pilots, like Marine Corps Capt. Chris Vanderweerd, the system provides more predictable and stable control responses to improve safety and mission effectiveness. “We will take up to 30 fully loaded Marines and [are] able to insert them into a zone in a timely and [safe] manner where they don’t have to risk going in via convoy,” said Vanderweerd, who is with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461. “We can take them airborne and cut the time drastically that they are in enemy engagement zone essentially.”

“The whole fly-by-wire system is awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Dakota Schneider, crew chief with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron (MAWTS) 1, who is supporting the CH-53K at MCAS New River. “It will bring a level of safety that you can’t get anywhere else.”.

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