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Built to thrive on the modern battlefield, including shipboard operations, the Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter is designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most austere and remote forward operating bases.
Recently, the CH-53K King Stallion completed an external lift of a 36,000-pound payload at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center, achieving a maximum weight on the single center point cargo hook. This milestone marks the completion of critical flight envelope expansion activities for the CH-53K as Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company prepares to deliver the first aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps this year.
The CH-53K lifted the external load of 36,000 lbs. into a hover followed by flight demonstrating satisfactory handling qualities and structural margins. The gross weight of the aircraft topped out at just over 91,000 lbs., making this the heaviest helicopter ever flown by Sikorsky.
Prior to the 36,000-lb. lift, the CH-53K lifted various external payloads up to 27,000 lbs. including a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The CH-53K can carry a 27,000 lb. external load over 110 nautical miles in high/hot conditions, which is more than triple the external load carrying capacity of the legacy CH-53E aircraft, and better than any other heavy lift helicopter in production, according to the company announcement. Other flight envelope accomplishments include tethered hover demonstrating flight speeds to 200 knots, angle of bank to 60 degrees, takeoffs and landings from sloped surfaces up to 12 degrees, external load auto-jettison, and gunfire testing.
The CH-53K program continues on pace to deploy the new heavy-lift capability to the warfighters.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Ground Forces Command favors the Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook tandem-rotor helicopter as its future heavy-lift helicopter to replace the aging CH-53.
In recent discussions, the Ground Forces Command expressed support for the CH-47. The other option is the CH-53 K. The support of the IDF’s ground forces command was clearly expressed in a recent press briefing.
The final decision, though, is in the hands of the Israeli airforce (IAF).
The current fleet of Ch-53 (Yasur) is planned to remain in service until 2028. This is the main reason why a final selection must be made soon.