The U.S. Marine Corps has assessed the key functions of a Sikorsky-built CH-53K King Stallion helicopter during a week-long initial operational test.
Sikorsky’s parent company Lockheed Martin said Friday the military branch’s pilots, aircrew and maintainers performed the assessment as part of Milestone C requirements before the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter program transitions to the low-rate initial production phase.
The flight test involved external lift scenarios of nearly 27,000 pounds in hover and approximately 12,000 pounds over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles, according to Lockheed.
Lockheed added that ground evaluation of the helicopter included embarkation and debarkation of combat equipped warfighters, tactical bulk fuel delivery system operation, medevac litter configuration and internal and external cargo rigging.
“OT-B1 is a critical milestone for the program because this is the first time an operational test has been done utilizing an ‘All Marine’ crew,” said Col. Hank Vanderborght, program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters Program.
The operational assessment took place at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The King Stallion is designed to support external cargo load and maritime missions as well as operations in degraded visual environments.