The Marine Corps today received the first CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter at Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC, according to a service statement.
The service will begin an assessment on the maintenance, sustainment and overall aviation logistics support of the aircraft in a supportability test plan, the statement said.
Designated System Demonstration Test Article 3, the aircraft will not fly for the government as a regular asset until summer 2019.
CH-53K prime contract Sikorsky expects to deliver the second helicopter in early 2019, according to a company statement.
The King Stallion is the replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion and is expected to carry three times the load of its predecessor. The first eight aircraft of the program of record -- which will purchase 200 helicopters -- are under contract with some of those aircraft scheduled to be delivered this year. The service will transition to eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.
"I am very proud of the work accomplished to deliver the most powerful helicopter ever designed into the hands of our Marines," said Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, deputy commandant for aviation. "And confident in the teamwork and dedication in this program which will carry us to [initial operational capability]."
The Marine Corps expects the CH-53K to reach initial operational capability in December 2019.