The Marine Corps started initial operational test and evaluation on its CH-53K helicopter program last month, program manager Col. Jack Perrin said Tuesday.
Perrin, during a media briefing at the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space conference, said IOT&E started in July and will run through January or February.
During IOT&E, the program will test its missions -- including external and internal loads, cargo loads, troop movement, helicopter aerial refueling and aerial gunnery -- in both day and night settings.
"They're going to test in the aircraft desert, mountain environment, in the end, they are going to test it in all environments the Marines are going to operate," Perrin said.
The first LRIP Lot 1 helicopter has finished final assembly, Bill Falk, Sikorsky's program manager for the CH-53K, said Tuesday. The helicopter is tracking for delivery in late September or early October, he said.
"It is in hangar operations that we'll fill the fuel cells with fuel, put on the new rotor plates, the tail rotor plates, go off and do ground runs and fly that aircraft," Falk said.