A FOURTH prototype CH-53K King Stallion has joined the flight test programme. Maiden flight of this additional development helicopter was announced by Sikorsky on September 2.
The first three CH-53K heavy lift helicopter Engineering Development Models (EDM) achieved their first flights on October 27, 2015; January 22, 2016, and June 21, 2016, respectively. Addition of a fourth CH-53K to the flight test programme will accelerate the pace of development leading to full aircraft maturity and production.
The US Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft for the US Marine Corps. The first four of these are scheduled for delivery next year. An additional four aircraft are under long lead procurement for parts and materials with delivery scheduled in 2019. USMC initial operating capability is scheduled for 2019. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.