Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky is reporting that tests are currently underway on the replacement for the CH-53E Super Stalion Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion. According to Flightglobal, “The Lockheed Martin-owned rotorcraft manufacturer says its second triple-engine giant achieved flight on January 22nd, and the two developmental aircraft have logged 35 flight hours since CH-53K flying began on 27 October.
Operating from Sikorsky’s flight test center in West Palm Beach, Florida, the first engineering development model (EDM) recently flew 120kts, just 21kts sky of its advertised speed of 141kts.
The programme, which entered development in October 2005, will deliver 200 “super-heavy-lift” helicopters to the US Marine Corps as a replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion, which the service plans to phase out by 2027.
Powered by three General Electric Aviation T408-400 turboshaft engines, the King Stallion will introduce fly-by-wire controls, “fourth-generation rotor blades” with anhedral tips, and increase the payload capacity threefold. It will haul 12.2t (27,000lbs) over 110nm – 1.4t (3,000lbs) less than the original target set in 2005 but still significantly more than the Sikorsky CH-53E.”
Hopefully, the diecast modelmakers are listening, and a replica of this important rotary-wing aircraft isn’t too far behind.