The United States Marine Corps has a new helicopter that is ready-made for its Marine Expeditionary Forces. It is the CH-53K King Stallion, and it promises to be a real boon to the MEUs. It is both big and powerful.
The King Stallion is a little over 99 ft. in length. It can fly at speeds up to 195.6 mph and at a ceiling of 9,520 ft. With three turbo-shaft engines, it can produce up to 7,332 shaft horsepower. With this much power, the King Stallion can carry up to 27,000 lbs for 110 nautical miles. That makes the King Stallion 3 times more powerful than its predecessor in the fleet, the CH-53E Super Stallion. In a Marine Times article, Staff Sgt. Dakota Schneider, a crew chief and instructor with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, says, “It’s got power for days; you can do anything you want.”
It’s not just big in the power end; its cabin space can accommodate as many as 463 pallets of materials, and/or high mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles, such as Light Armored Vehicles. It has 4th-generation high-efficiency composite rotor blades with swept anhedral tips and fly-by-wire controls for greater survivability, safety, and maintenance improvements. It has a crew of 2 pilots and 1-3 other crew members.
The first King Stallion was delivered to the Marine Corps in May of 2018 with a goal to be in the fleet by 2019. But, like most new systems, some 100 mechanical issues, minor and major, were found. The Sikorsky manufacturer resolved those issues, and it was ready then for its first operational missions by September of 2021.
Recently, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461(HMH-461), based in New River, North Carolina, held operational exercises for the King Stallion at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. Mountain Home AFB was chosen for the location to get some experience with the King Stallion in a place with varied terrain. They deployed three of the King Stallions for this exercise. In an article in the Marine Times, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Capt. Greg H. Kosiras, said, “The purpose of the exercise was to increase expeditionary capabilities, increase maintenance and aircrew proficiency, promote unit cohesion, and support the CH-53K fleet transition.” HMH-461 is a subsidiary of the 2nd Marine Aircraft wing, the aviation combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force, nicknamed “Ironhorse.”
Another Marine air winger, Staff Sgt. James Ganieany, said of the CH-53K King Stallion, “The benefits are endless. We practice on external [lift] with a Light Armored Vehicle, and we never have power issues. HMH-461 conducted its first operational flight for CH-53K in April 2022 and have been training with it ever since.”
These huge helicopters bring the Marine Expeditionary Forces the power to move supplies, ammunition, and armored vehicles from ship to shore with speed and efficiency. The CH-53K King Stallion will make the Marine Expeditionary Forces even more agile and quick in getting troops, supplies, and equipment from their ships far into the interior of any landing operations.
It looks like the CH-53K King Stallion has a real future in the Marine Corps Air Wing.Whizzco