The Marine Corps deployed its new heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion, in its first fleet exercise last month, according to a Tuesday announcement from the service.
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (HMH-461) completed training exercises, including external lifts with a Light Armored Vehicle, using three CH-53Ks over mountainous terrain in Idaho.
The CH-53K will replace the legacy CH-53E Super Stallion as the Marine Corps’ primary heavy-lift helicopter. It achieved initial operational capability in April.
Its intended use is transporting armored vehicles, equipment and personnel to locations that are far inland from a sea-based center of operation.
The King Stallion boasts three times the lift capability of the previous model, and can fly at higher altitudes for longer distances in hotter conditions, according to the service’s news release.
“The CH-53K is more powerful, safer and an easier-to-maintain helicopter. That’ll allow each wing commander more capacity to sustain the Marine Air-Ground Task Force in an austere environment,” said HMH-461 commanding officer Lt. Col. Adam Horne in a statement included in the announcement.
Inside Defense previously reported that the Defense Department’s legislative proposal package for the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill requested the Navy enter a block-buy contract for 30 CH-53Ks in FY-23 and FY-24.
The Marine Corps included 10 CH-53Ks in its FY-23 budget request. The service’s unfunded priorities list contained $250 million for two more of the aircraft.