Sikorsky delivered the first CH-53 helicopter to the U.S. Marine Corps recently, the first of 200 new cargo helicopters that the Lockheed Martin subsidiary expects to supply for the USMC fleet. It will be stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, N.C. Sikorsky noted delivery of the second CH-53K helicopter to the USMC is set for early 2019.
"With 18 additional aircraft in various stages of production already, the entire Sikorsky team, in partnership with our suppliers, is looking forward to additional deliveries to delight our customer," according to Sikorsky president Dan Schultz, a former CH-53 pilot.
The Sikorsky CH-53K “King Stallion” is a heavy-lift cargo helicopter developed for the USMC to replace an earlier version, CH-53E, that has been in use since 1981. The CH-53K design emphasizes "low maintenance, high availability and enhanced survivability in the most austere and remote forward operating bases."
The CH-53K King Stallion is equipped with single, dual, and triple external cargo hook capability that will allow for transfer of three independent external loads to three separate landing zones, in support of distributed operations in a single sortie, without having to return to a ship or other logistical hub.
At New River, U.S. Marines will conduct a logistics assessment on the maintenance, sustainment, and overall aviation logistics support for the King Stallion. This will validate maintenance procedures, with Marine Corps maintainers conducting hands-on care/upkeep of the aircraft.
"Our first delivery of a CH-53K to the Marine Corps marks the start of a new generation of true, heavy-lift helicopter deliveries by Sikorsky that bring unsurpassed and expanded capability across the modern battlefield to provide tremendous mission flexibility and efficiency in delivering combat power, humanitarian assistance or disaster relief for those in need," Schultz said.