Sikorsky has completed the last of its its critical flight expansion activities for its CH-53K ahead of its first delivery of the aircraft to the Marine Corps later in 2018, with a successful external lift test to carry a maximum weight payload, the company said Wednesday.
The Lockheed Martin [LMT] owned aircraft company flew its CH-53K King Stallion with a 36,000-pound payload on a single center point cargo hook, while maintaining satisfactory handling capabilities and structural margins.
"The successful completion of these last critical envelope expansion tests further demonstrates the maturity of the CH-53K aircraft. "We look forward to bringing this unique and exceptional heavy lift capability to the United States Marine Corps and our international customers," Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s vice president of Marine Corps Systems, said in a statement.
Sikorsky’s CH-53K heavy-lift cargo helicopter will be the largest helicopter in the U.S. military, and is the company’s heaviest aircraft. The Marine Corps has ordered 200 of the helicopters for $25 billion, with delivery of the first aircraft set for later this year.
An earlier payload test for the CH-53K required lifting up to 27.000 pounds, including carrying a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. The aircraft is capable of carrying 27,000 pounds for over 110 nautical miles, which is more than three times the amount of its predecessor, the CH-53E.
"The payload capability of this helicopter is unmatched, triple that of its predecessor and better than any other heavy lift helicopter in production. The CH-53K program continues on pace to deploy this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters,” Col. Hank Vanderborght, Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s heavy lift helicopters program, said in a statement.