Home Americas CH-53K King Stallion hits full rate production milestone

CH-53K King Stallion hits full rate production milestone

CH-53K King Stallion full rate production
US Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 prepare for takeoff in CH-53K King Stallions at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Aug. 16, 2022. Photo: US Marine Corps

The US Navy has declared full rate production for the new CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter, allowing the platform to begin the deployment phase.

The full rate production milestone follows a review assessing the results of initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), live fire test and evaluation, production readiness reviews, risk, and affordability analyses.

An acquisition decision memorandum signed on December 21 is expected to see Sikorsky, the helicopter manufacturer, increase production to more than 20 helicopters annually in the coming years.

The Marine Corps plans to buy 200 of the all-new heavy-lift helicopters, with a first fleet deployment set for 2023-2024. Powered by three General Electric T-408 engines, the CH-53K can lift more than 36,000 pounds and can carry 30 passengers or troops.

“We have successfully demonstrated the performance and reliability of this aircraft,” said Col. Kate Fleeger, PMA-261 program manager. “With FRP we will continue to build on the strong manufacturing, sustainment and support that has been established for the CH-53K.”

The full rate production comes after the service began fielding the helicopter in January this year, officially beginning its transition from the CH-53E Super Stallion. The CH-53K is capable of lifting almost triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability.