Marine Corps Declares IOC For CH-53K King Stallion
by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jorge Hernandez
Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen.
Mark Wise announced the Marine Corps has achieved initial
operational capability in the CH-53K King Stallion on April 22,
2022. This plan supports Gen. Berger’s Force Design 2030 by
improving capabilities and restructuring Marine Corps aviation for
the future fight.
In addition to meeting IOC criteria, the
CH-53K successfully completed a thorough initial operational test
and evaluation period that resulted in over 3,000 mishap free hours
flown in various challenging environments and terrain.
April 13, 2022 - U.S. Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 take off in a CH-53K King Stallion during its first operational flight at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. The flight signified the beginning of HMH-461's modernization from the CH-53E Super Stallion to the CH-53K King Stallion. HMH-461 is a subordinate unit of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the aviation combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Elias E. Pimentel III)
“My full confidence in the CH-53K’s ability
to execute the heavy lift mission is the result of successful
developmental and operational testing conducted by Air Test and
Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 and Marine Operational Test and
Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1” said Wise.
The CH-53K is an
optimized vertical, heavy lift, sea-based, long range solution for
the naval force and will immediately provide nearly three times the
lift capability of the CH-53E, with the ability to transport one
hundred percent of the vertical Marine Air-Ground Task Force
(MAGTF). Per the Commandant’s Force Design 2030 Annual Update, the
CH-53K will complement connectors that will enable littoral maneuver
and provide logistical support to a widely disaggregated naval
“The success to date of the CH-53K is a reflection of
the hard work and effort by the Marines, sailors, and civilians at
VMX-1, H-53 Program Office (PMA-261), and Marine Heavy Helicopter
Squadron (HMH) 461, and the support we have received over many years
from across the Department of the Navy and our industry partners,”
The King Stallion boasts an engine that produces
57% more horsepower with 63% fewer parts relative to its
predecessor, which translates to an expanded capability to deliver
internal and external cargo loads, providing the commander a
mobility and sustainment capability the MAGTF has never had before.
April 13, 2022 - U.S. Marines with Marine Heavy
Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 taxi in a CH-53K King Stallion
after its first operational flight at Marine Corps Air
Station New River, North Carolina. The flight signified the
beginning of HMH-461's modernization from the CH-53E Super
Stallion to the CH-53K King Stallion. HMH-461 is a
subordinate unit of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the aviation
combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S.
Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Elias E. Pimentel III)
The most notable attribute of the King
Stallion is its ability to maintain increased performance margins in
a degraded aeronautical environment, for example at higher
altitudes, hotter climates and carrying up to 27,000 lbs. out to 110
nautical miles; whereas, the CH-53E would be limited to a
9,628-pound external load in the same environment.
Marine Corps plans to deploy the first CH-53K Marine Expeditionary
Unit (MEU) detachment in fiscal year 2024, setting the initial
conditions for sustained CH-53K deployments in support of MEUs.
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