The heavy-lift helicopter that Sikorsky is developing for the U.S. Marine Corps has overcome early challenges and is on schedule for initial operational deployments in 2023. Called the King Stallion, the CH-53K is far more capable than the “E” variant currently serving with the Marines. It can deliver a heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicle plus two tons of additional payload over 120 miles, and then return safely to the amphibious warship from which it originated. Its range can be extended through aerial refueling, and a “full authority fly-by-wire” flight system enables it to land successfully even in visually degraded conditions such as dust storms. As if all the added capability were not enough, King Stallion will be much less expensive to operate than legacy Marine heavy lifters. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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