CH-53K Helicopter Achieves First Flight
(Source: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.; issued Oct 27, 2015)
The first flight of the CH-53K prototype lasted 30 minutes, and kicked off a 2,000-hour flight test program which should ultimately lead to Initial Operating Capability in 2019. (Sikorsky photo)
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --- Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. today announced the successful first flight of the U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter protoype, known as Engineering Development Model-1 (EDM-1). The 30-minute flight signals the beginning of a 2,000-hour flight test program using four test aircraft.

"EDM-1's first flight signifies another major milestone for the CH-53K helicopter program," said Mike Torok, Sikorsky's CH-53K Program Vice President. "Having independently tested the aircraft's many components and subsystems, including integrated system level testing on the Ground Test Vehicle, we are now moving on to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program."

Sikorsky delivered the EDM-1 into the test program at the company's West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Development Flight Center in late 2014. During its 30 minute maiden flight the EDM-1 aircraft performed hover, sideward, rearward and forward flight control inputs while in ground effect hover up to 30 feet above the ground.

As the flight test program proceeds, the EDM-1 will be joined by an additional 3 EDM aircraft to fully expand the King Stallion's flight envelope over the course of the three-year flight test program.

"We have entered a much anticipated phase in this developmental program," said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters. "We have experienced significant learning at the system and sub-system levels, which continues to build our confidence in the capabilities of the 53K. With first flight behind us, we look forward to execution of the development and operational testing and the deployment of this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters."

Sikorsky, with support of others in the industry, is developing the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps. The CH-53K King Stallion helicopter will maintain similar physical dimensions as its predecessor, the three-engine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, but will nearly triple the payload to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under "high hot" ambient conditions.

Features of the CH-53K helicopter include a modern glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth-generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking, United States Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and improved reliability, maintainability and supportability.

The U.S. Department of Defense's Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft with an Initial Operational Capability in 2019. Eventual production quantities would be determined year-by-year over the life of the program based on funding allocations set by Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense acquisition priorities. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.


Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Conn., provides high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

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U.S. Marine Corp's CH-53K Helicopter Takes First Flight
(Source: US Naval Air Systems Command; issued Oct 27, 2015)
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --- The U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53K helicopter entered flight test phase today upon completing its first flight at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach.

At 8:02 a.m., the CH-53K King Stallion took off and hovered for 30 minutes at 25 feet to assess basic aircraft controllability and landing, and handled as predicted.

"We have entered a much anticipated phase in this developmental program," said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for heavy lift helicopters. "We have experienced significant learning at the system and sub-system levels, which continues to build our confidence in the capabilities of the 53K. With first flight behind us, we look forward to execution of the development and operational testing and the deployment of this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters."

The CH-53K is the Marine Corps' new build, heavy lift replacement for the CH-53E, which will transport Marines, heavy equipment and supplies during ship-to-shore movement in support of amphibious assault and subsequent operations ashore. The CH-53K will expand the fleet's ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility.

Using proven and matured technologies, the King Stallion is designed to lift 14 tons at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in Navy high/hot environments - three times the baseline CH-53E lift capability.

The CH-53K program is currently on track to provide an initial operating capability in 2019, with a procurement objective for 200 helicopters.

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GE Aviation’s T408 Engine Powers First Flight of Marine Corps’ CH-53K
(Source: GE Aviation; issued October 27, 2015)
LYNN, Mass. --- Earlier today, GE Aviation’s largest turboshaft engine – the GE38-1B, designated the T408 by the US government – successfully powered the first flight of the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter.

GE is part of an industry team led by Stratford, Conn.-based Sikorsky Aircraft that is assembling prototype CH-53K aircraft. The Marine Corps expect to stand up the first CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter squadron in 2019. The U.S. Navy program of record is for 200 aircraft.

“Today’s successful first flight is a critical milestone for the GE38 program as we near engine qualification,” said Paul Acquaviva, GE Aviation’s GE38 program director. “We are honored to work with the Marine Corps and Sikorsky to bring this step-change in propulsion capability to the CH-53 fleet, which we’ve powered for more than 50 years.”

Three 7,332-rated shaft horsepower GE38-1B engines provide the power for the CH-53K King Stallion aircraft, enabling the aircraft to carry a 27,000-pound external load over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in hot weather conditions, which triples the external load carrying capacity of the service’s current T64-powered CH-53E SUPER STALLION™ aircraft.

Through its rigorous qualification program, the GE38 has logged more than 4,500 hours of testing, demonstrating margin to its performance requirements and superior performance retention characteristics.

In August 2014, the Navy awarded GE Aviation a System Demonstration Test Article (SDTA) contract to manufacture and support 16 GE38-1B engines for the Operational Evaluation phase of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion aircraft development program. In January 2015, the Navy exercised a contract option for six additional engines, bringing the total to 22 GE38 engines. The contract builds on the success of the System Design and Development (SDD) contracts with Sikorsky dating back to 2006, which covered engine factory qualification testing and the delivery of 20 flight test engines to support the Technical Evaluation (Tech-Eval) phase of the CH-53K program.

“The GE38 has been the smoothest product development program in my tenure at GE – the engine has exceeded expectations in terms of performance, schedule and cost,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, Vice President and General Manager of GE Aviation’s Military Systems Operation. “Between the GE38, GE3000 and Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE) programs, we have a unique multi-generational product plan that shares technologies across our military rotorcraft engines, enabling a low-risk capability to develop high-performance and affordable engines applicable to numerous aircraft.”

When compared to its predecessor – the T64 turboshaft engine that powers the SUPER STALLION aircraft – the GE38 will provide more than 57 percent more power, 18 percent better specific fuel consumption and 63 percent fewer parts. The GE38 features a more rugged compressor design to increase durability and resistance to sand erosion and salt water corrosion -- features ideal to withstand the USMC's tough operating environment.

In December 2013, the GE38 completed its 300-hour cyclic durability test, spending the longest time at maximum redline temperatures of any engine in GE history. The GE38 met the USMC’s new engine performance requirements, with ample margin to the customer’s specific fuel consumption target. These results demonstrate the inherent durability and performance retention characteristics that will contribute to a significantly lower life cycle cost for the Marine Corps.

GE Supply Chain facilities in Lynn, Ma; Hooksett, NH; Rutland, Vt.; Madisonville, KY, Dayton, OH, and Jacksonville, FL will all provide parts for this contract.


GE Aviation, an operating unit of General Electric Company is a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines and components as well as integrated digital, electric power, and mechanical systems for aircraft. GE Aviation also has a global service network to support these offerings.

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