Lockheed Martin (LM) announced (21.20.2016) that CH-53K King Stallion has completed the initial operational testing by the U.S. Marine Corps. The tests lasted one week and bring the whole project a step closer to Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).
Marines have lifted with the CH-53K 12,200 kgs on external hook and transported 5422 kgs on a 110 nautical mile radius mission.
As we can read in LM statement the helicopter can carry three times the external payload of its predecessor – CH-53E. You can even fit a HMMWV inside! It’s tight but it fits!
But for me that is not the key point in this release. Te key word with CH-53K is “high hot”. Recent decade of missions taught us that today’s army has to be ready to deploy everywhere and you have to understand that literally. We all remember Polish Mi-24 starting in Afghanistan on it’s front wheel, just like an airplane. They where not ready to operate in “high hot” conditions – they could and still can operate in Poland or any other low country but “high hot” was a big challenge, which of course could be overcome like with the trick with the front wheel start. But the point is, that we should not try to us tricks to fulfill a given mission. Army is supposed to be ready.
That is why “high hot” is a very popular phrase in press releases from last years. The army and industry try to be ready for the next task. We can also assume that if a helicopter like CH-53K or an aircraft is ready for 100% in such demanding conditions it also has an extra push in normal conditions which is where they usually operate. This gives the warfigther an edge in many situations and a chance to fulfill the mission in the best possible way.
All photos: Lockheed Martin