A CH-53K King Stallion has successfully lifted an external 27,000-pound payload, Lockheed Martin announced this week.
The King Stallion is being developed for the Marine Corps to replace its hulking CH-53E Super Stallion choppers. But the maximum payload for the King stallion is set to nearly double that of the Super Stallion, maxing out at 35,000 pounds, according to program officials. individual operating capability for the chopper is expected by 2019. Navy requirements dictate that the King Stallion must be able to carry 27,000 pounds in "high hot" conditions: across 110 nautical miles at a temperature of 91.5 Fahrenheit, at 3,000 feet off the ground.
The 27,000-pound lift milestone was achieved at Sikorsky's Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, according to the Lockheed announcement. Lockheed Martin acquired Sikorsky late last year.
“Lifting 27,000 pounds in [out of ground effect] conditions is another key milestone for the program, which further confirms our confidence in the design and performance of the aircraft,” Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for the Naval Air Systems Command's Heavy Lift Helicopters Program, said in a statement. “This is the most strenuous condition we had to demonstrate from a performance standpoint prior to achieving Milestone ’C’ and entering production.”
Lockheed also announced that a third King Stallion had joined the test program. A fourth will arrive at the test facility this summer.
According to the announcement, the Defense Department plans to buy 200 King Stallions in total, enough to populate eight active squadrons, a training squadron, and a reserve squadron, with the first four aircraft to be delivered to the Marine Corps next year.