Tag Archives: West Palm Beach

Sikorsky starts testing CH-53K with caution

Bare head testing of the CH-53K Super Stallion (Image © Sikorsky)
Bare head testing of the CH-53K Super Stallion (Image © Sikorsky)

Already known to be a heavy-lift helicopter, the newest CH-53 puts literly an extra Kilo to its name. Manufacturer Sikorsky started flight testing the CH-53K Super Stallion, the company announced on 10 February 2014.

The first engine power-up and rotor-spin of the prototype CH-53K – the Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) – took place on 24 January 2014 at the West Palm Beach facility in Florida, but it was not until this week the test was made public.

Now anchored to the ground at its remote outdoor test site, the 44,000-pound GTV aircraft is outfitted at more than 1,300 points with sensors that will measure and verify the ability to operate safely under its own power. The GTV will undergo ground testing for approximately two years with both Sikorsky and US Marine Corps test pilots at the controls.

Once the so-called Bare Head testing is completed, Sikorsky will mount seven main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades onto the GTV. During this second test phase, Sikorsky will conduct extensive aircraft system checks leading to a formal Pre-Flight Acceptance Test required to clear the first flight aircraft for flight testing.

Four additional test aircraft are being prepared for flight test, commencing in late 2014. During the three-year flight test program, Sikorsky will continue to evaluate the GTV for long-term endurance of the engines and dynamic components, survivability, and maintenance practices.

The 88,000 pound (39,916 kg) CH-53K is being developed for the US Marine Corps. It is supposed to be able to carry three times the external load of the current CH-53E, with the Kilo version transporting 27,000 pounds over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles under so-called high-hot ambient conditions.

About 200 CH-53Ks are expected to enter service with the Marines, with Initial Operational Capability expected by 2019.

Source: Sikorsky

Related posts

Bare head testing of the CH-53K Super Stallion (Image © Sikorsky)
Bare head testing of the CH-53K Super Stallion (Image © Sikorsky)

Sikorsky builds four CH-53Ks

The Sikorsky CH-53K Ground Test Vehicle (Image © Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.)
The Sikorsky CH-53K Ground Test Vehicle (Image © Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.)

Sikorsky received a $435 million to build four production-representative CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters for the US Marine Corps. Designated as System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA), the four aircraft will enable the Marines to conduct operational evaluation of the new helicopter system in support of Initial Operational Capability in 2019.

The contract schedule requires that Sikorsky deliver the first SDTA aircraft in 39 months, and the fourth by the end of March 2017, when the Marines will begin operational evaluation. Sikorsky will perform final assembly of the SDTA aircraft at the company’s Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility in West Palm Beach.

To date, Sikorsky has delivered two of the seven SDD CH-53K aircraft – the Ground Test Vehicle and the Static Test Article – into the test program, and is finalizing assembly of the four flight test aircraft and the Fatigue Test Article. First flight of a CH-53K prototype aircraft is expected in late 2014.

Once the SDTA aircraft enter operational evaluation in 2017, the Marine Corps will verify the CH-53K helicopter’s capability to carry 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “high hot” ambient conditions, nearly tripling the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.

Technology enablers for increased lift include three 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B engines; a split torque transmission design that more efficiently distributes engine power to the main rotors; fourth-generation composite rotor blades for enhanced lift; and a composite airframe structure for reduced weight.

Per the current program of record, the Navy intends to order an additional 196 CH-53K aircraft as part of a separate production contract to stand up eight operational squadrons and one training squadron to support the Marine Corps’ operational requirements. 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.

Source: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.