Marine Corps’ CH-53K reaches initial operational capability

By Audrey Decker / April 25, 2022 at 11:53 AM

The Marine Corps’ new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter has reached initial operational capability, according to a Marine Corps press release.

The King Stallion will provide nearly three times the lift capability of the legacy CH-53E helicopter and can transport the vertical Marine Air-Ground Task Force, the press release states.

Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky is the program’s prime contractor.

“The most notable attribute of the King Stallion is its ability to maintain increased performance margins in a degraded aeronautical environment, for example at higher altitudes, hotter climates and carrying up to 27,000 lbs. out to 110 nautical miles; whereas the CH-53E would be limited to a 9,628-pound external load in the same environment,” the press release states.

The Marine Corps will deploy the first CH-53K Marine Expeditionary Unit detachment in fiscal year 2024, according to the service.

The Defense Department’s legislative proposal package for the FY-23 defense authorization bill requests that the Navy enter a block-buy contract in FY-23 and FY-24 for 30 CH-53Ks.

The Marine Corps unfunded priorities list included $250 million for two King Stallion helicopters. The service requested 10 CH-53Ks in the FY-23 budget request.