Home Americas US Marine Corps begins fielding of new CH-53K heavy lift helicopter

US Marine Corps begins fielding of new CH-53K heavy lift helicopter

CH-53E and CH-53K
A CH-53K King Stallion (right) and a CH-53E Super Stallion are staged during a redesignation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, Jan. 24, 2022. Photo: US Marine Corpy

The Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 became the first in the US Marine Corps to transition to the new CH-53K King Stallion with a re-designation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, on January 24.

HMH-461 transitioned from the CH-53E Super Stallion to become the Marine Corps’ first fleet CH-53K King Stallion squadron.

As the US military’s most powerful helicopter, the CH-53K is a new-build helicopter that will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility using proven and mature technologies.

Designed to lift 27,000 lbs/12,247 kg at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles (203 km), in high/hot environments, the CH-53K is capable of lifting almost triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability.

HMH-461’s transition to the new type comes at a time when four of the helicopters are in Initial Operational Test and Evaluation with Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron, VMX-1, at MCAS New River. There are currently 33 program aircraft, either delivered or on contract.

“Today our Marine Corps got a little stronger. It is only appropriate that 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and in particular Marine Corps Air Station New River, would be the first to receive the newest land and sea-based heavy helicopter because this is the home of the Marine Corps’ assault support,” Maj. Gen. Michael Cederholm, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said describing the significance of HMH-461’s transition to a CH-53K squadron.

“Placing the CH-53K King Stallion into the hands of our warfighters will ensure we capitalize on the unique qualities and characteristics of the 53K, and will allow 2nd MAW to continue to provide the best aviation support to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force right now, and well into our future.”

US Marine Corps file photo

The CH-53K will allow the quick massing of combat power, agile maneuver, resilient logistics and predictive maintenance, and be used in the Marine Corps’ execution of expeditionary advanced based operations, a key component of the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ force design.

“Quite simply, 2nd MAW will be able to move more troops and equipment, at higher altitudes, faster speeds, and in more austere environments than ever before,” Maj. Gen. Cederholm added.

The Marine Corps plans to buy 200 of the all-new heavy-lift helicopters, with a first fleet deployment set for 2023-2024.