Sikorsky has announced today that a second CH-53K helicopter has achieved its first flight, and is now part of their flight test program. The Lockheed Martin-owned company added that the helicopter it is joining in the program has expanded its flight envelope to 120 knots as part of the King Stallion heavy lift helicopter program.
Adding a second aircraft into flight status signifies another milestone for the CH-53K program.
said Sikorsky's vice president of CH-53K Programs.
Mike Torok also said,
With both aircraft in flight test, our flight envelope expansion efforts will accelerate as we continue to make good progress toward our initial operational test assessment and full aircraft system qualification.
The United States Marine Corps mandates that these tests be passed before it can be added to their fleet. They are looking to add two more of these choppers before they can complete qualification. This heavy lift program testing period will last an estimated three years. They plan to have a total of ten squadrons that use this helicopter when it is all said and done.
It is exciting to have two CH-53K helicopters flying. said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters said,Our program continues on pace to deploy this incredible heavy lift capability to our war-fighters.
The two helicopters made their first flights just three months apart – the first in October of last year, and the second in late January of 2016. Together, they have amassed nearly a day and a half of total flight time – this has included test runs from current Marine Corps helicopter pilots.
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