The US Marine Corps is scheduled to take delivery of its first production version of the CH-53K King Stallion from Sikorsky early next week.
The heavy-lift helicopter is to be received at MCAS New River, North Carolina. At the base, the USMC said it plans to put the aircraft through its Supportability Test Plan by conducting a logistics assessment on the maintenance, sustainment and overall support of the King Stallion.
The CH-53K King Stallion has the same footprint and looks similar to its predecessor, the CH-53E Super Stallion, but has three times the lift capacity. It can carry a 12,200 kg (27,000lb) external load over 110nm (204km), according to Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky.
The new version features three GE Aviation T408 engines, a new transmission, new rotor blades, a composite fuselage and new fly-by-wire avionics.
The USMC plans to replace its aging fleet of CH-53E Super Stallions, which were first introduced in the late 1970s, with 200 King Stallions. The aircraft's average unit price is estimated at about $87 million, if all 200 CH-53Ks are ordered.