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US Navy new CH-53K King Stallion helicopter completes two-week period of sea trials


According to information released by the Naval Air Systems Command website on June 24, 2020, the U.S. Navy CH-53K King Stallion completed a two-week period of sea trials in the Atlantic earlier this month. This was the first opportunity to see the aircraft working in a modern naval environment. Testing took place on the USS Wasp LHD-1, a landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious assault ship operated by the U.S. Navy.
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US Navy new CH 53K King Stallion helicopter completes two week period of sea trials 925 001 The U.S. Navy CH-53K King Stallion prepares to take off from the deck of the USS Wasp (LHD) at sea during its first sea trials. (Picture source U.S. Navy)


According to the CH-53K integrated test team, the sea trials are a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the aircraft at sea. Tests performed during the two weeks included: launch and recovery; rotor start and shutdown; blade fold; and shipboard compatibility testing – all in increasing wind speed and varying wind directions relative to the aircraft.

Ship compatibility testing includes towing the aircraft around the deck and in the hangar, performing maintenance while aboard the ship, ensuring the aircraft fits in all the locations it needs to around the ship deck and hangar, and evaluating chain/tie-down procedures.

The CH-53K King Stallion continues to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K timeline, moving toward completion of the developmental test, leading to initial operational test and evaluation in 2021 and first fleet deployment in 2023-2024.

The USS Wasp (LHD-1) is a United States Navy multipurpose amphibious assault ship, and the lead ship of her class. Wasp and her sister ships are the first specifically designed to accommodate new Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) for fast troop movement over the beach, and Harrier II (AV-8B) Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) jets which provide close air support for the assault force. She can also accommodate the full range of Navy and Marine Corps helicopters, the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey, the F-35B Lightning II multi-role fighter, conventional landing craft, and amphibious vehicles.

The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy-lift cargo helicopter currently being developed by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The design features three 7,500 shp (5,590 kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider aircraft cabin than previous CH-53 variants. It will be the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military.