Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR)

TomcatViP

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New USN contract for 6 new LRIP King with support (550M$):
Sikorsky will provide six low-rate initial production airlifters along with support services such as logistics, configuration audits and tooling, the Department of Defense said Monday.
 
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A significant step toward full induction:

The CH-53K IOT&E will take place in 2021 ahead of a planned first deployment in 2023 or 2024. The helicopter now has more than 2,100 flight hours of testing from the ground and from an amphibious ship, in various temperatures and environments, and carrying a range of internal and external payloads. As production ramps up in Sikorsky’s Connecticut assembly line, the program is heading towards the delivery of its first low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft in September 2021.
 

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In 2018, as the Air Vehicle Test and Evaluation Lead on PMA-261’s test team, the CH-53K program was running behind-schedule and the U.S. Marine Corps urgently needed to finish development on the aircraft in order to field it in time to support planned fleet activities. There was a major restructuring of the test program led by Fallabel where he found a way to accelerate the IOT&E by over three years compared to prior restructuring estimates.
Fallabel’s efforts resulted in a scope reduction of 300 flight hours without sacrificing technical standards. That reduction helped to provide a program cost avoidance of more than $30M. He also enabled the CH-53K Integrated Test Team (ITT) to achieve success during the COVID-19 pandemic and complete the major milestone of critically important shipboard underway testing in June 2020.

“His adherence to T&E best practices and outstanding grasp of complex technical issues has directly led to successful program execution,” the award nomination states. “Mr. Fallabel developed and defended an executable plan, mitigated risks and fully informed Department of the Navy and Department of Defense stakeholders on the revised CH-53K test program to get concurrence and ensure unity of purpose.”
 

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The US Marine Corps (USMC) flew the first fleet flight of the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter on 15 January.

Announced by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on the same day, the milestone saw Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) fly the first non-developmental sortie from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina.
 

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As a developmental test pilot for the CH-53K King Stallion, Maj. Foxton served as the project officer for the aircraft's first shipboard detachment to the USS Wasp (LHD 1). He successfully directed an intensive series of tests that were designed to establish the helicopter’s performance envelope for day and night launches and recoveries at a wide range of wind speeds, among many other test points. Over the course of the 14-day detachment, Foxton's team accomplished 364 landings, of which 74 were conducted using night vision devices.

 

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1614252279749.png
Notice the flapping motion and pitch variations of the retreating blades.
 

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Most of tech problems reported are today already solved or have a fix in test.
Last big thing remaining is the cap in brown-out flight time (max 7 minutes cumulative time).
 

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Long lead items for 9 more Kings for the Marines:
Engineers at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., are preparing to build nine new CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and integrated avionics systems for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $155.2 million order announced Thursday.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, to procure long-lead items for nine CH-53K lot 6 helicopters.

Long-lead items either are difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. Contracts to build the actual helicopters will come later.
 

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Interesting bit in this aw article regarding the King (the report is more devoted to Embraer new generation turboprop) :

For Embraer’s project, GE Aviation is expected to propose a new-technology commercial turboprop dubbed the CPX based on the core of the 7,332-shp-rated military T408 turbo-shaft developed for the Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter. The concept is likely to target a minimum 15% improvement in fuel consumption compared to other large turboprops and would include an integrated propulsion system of the propeller, engine and nacelles.

 

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“The IAF is operating most of the time in dusty environments and has to perform long flights in these conditions. The limitations that were mentioned in the U.S official report cannot be accepted by the IAF,” one source said.

A second expert added that Lockheed’s solution must be “total and massive” before the CH-53K can be introduced into the IAF’s service. The dust and sand mostly damage the engine compressor, but the accumulation of sand inside the engine can also damage turbine components or clog internal air passages for specific engine models. The source added the IAF uses the heavy helicopters very frequently for “long-range combat missions that require many landings in sandy and dusty areas.”

The Israeli defense forces (IDF) Depth Command has asked to have the V-22 tilt rotor for specific missions that require speed and range, but this purchase has been delayed due to budget problems.
also
King and Osprey:
View: https://youtu.be/7vypq6awdEI
 
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“If you know you’re coming into a brownout situation or degraded visual environment, you engage the automation at a point right before the dust envelops you. And then in the CH53K, you can continue flying with the automation engaged. You continue flying with the automation engaged, and you can override it, but as soon as you stop moving the controls, it will take your inputs, estimate what you wanted and keep the aircraft in its position.

“It’s a very intuitive flight control system, and it blends very well with the pilot and the computers. It allows you to override the computer. And then the second that you stop overriding it, the computer takes back over without any further pilot input. That’s probably the biggest game changer for our community.”
[...]
“The CH-53K “can operate and fight on the digital battlefield.” And because the flight crew are enabled by the digital systems onboard, they can focus on the mission rather than focusing primarily on the mechanics of flying the aircraft. This will be crucial as the Marines shift to using unmanned systems more broadly than they do now.

“For example, it is clearly a conceivable future that CH-53Ks would be flying a heavy lift operation with unmanned “mules” accompanying them. Such manned-unmanned teaming requires a lot of digital capability and bandwidth, a capability built into the CH-53K.

 

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Question: You are on track this summer to fulfill the Initial Operational Test & valuation (IOT&E) requirements?

Col. Perrin: Yes. VMX-1 at New River have our first fleet aircraft, and they are doing extremely well.

In their Operational Test training, I believe they have trained five aircraft commanders and two co-pilots already.

They also have four crew chiefs and two aero observers, or the air crew in the back of the aircraft.

They started flying in January. And in the month of April, they flew over 50 hours on that single aircraft. Although we are working with early data, early information, the aircraft is doing really well and has tremendous availability.

Though we are in the process of validating maintenance procedures for the first time, it’s been going really well.

It’s an all-hands effort, I have not only the Marines out there doing it, but they’re supported by Sikorsky, and by my engineering and logistics teams to make sure that we’re working through all the processes, and everything is working well.

At the end of March, they received two more aircraft at New River. Those aircraft were complete with their modifications to fit into the proper configuration for IOT&E, and those aircraft have recently started flying, and they’re both also doing very well.

It takes the squadron about a month to go through the process of accepting newly delivered aircraft.

 

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The US State Department said Friday it approved the potential sale of 18 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopters to the Israel Defense Forces as part of a deal worth up to $3.4 billion.

The Defense Ministry chose the US-made helicopter earlier this year to replace the IDF’s fleet of CH-53 Sea Stallions which have been in service since the 1960s.


(editing added / SP link)
 

yasotay

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Likely to be a great helicopter, but I have to wonder how many will afford a ~$100M(US)/per unit. Okay, so maybe it gets cheap, like Osprey cheap. The question remains.
 

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But rather than simply describing how the platform is replacing the CH-53E, the focus needs to be upon how to leverage new capabilities to deal with evolving mission sets. The Marine Corps has been investing in capabilities to respond globally to crisis and contingency and build the capabilities to compete and blunt potential adversary’s aggression.

As Col. Joyce put it: “Logistics is our pacing function.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the High North or the Indo-Pacific.

“Assured logistics, assured movement, and assured sustainment of the force requires the capabilities that the heavy lift team brings to the fight. And the CH-53E and future CH-53K is the only heavy lift rotary-wing capability within the Department of Defense.

“The CH-53K is simply an exponential leap in heavy lift capability in terms of range, payload, and digital interoperability.”

“No one can predict with precision what the future holds. Advances in long-range precision strike, unmanned systems, loitering munitions, low earth orbit system sensing, and AI/ML will change how we currently perform our warfighting missions.

“But Close Air Support, Strike, Aerial Delivery, Assault Transport, Air Evacuation, and Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel to name a few absolutely have a future role in the Nation’s Crisis Response force.”

 

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The CH-53K will receive the DTU-7100 data transfer unit from Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The new data storage unit transfers files to and from the helicopter, and enables flight and ground crew to record and play back the video and audio using industry-standard MPEG-2.

In addition, the unit has the computing power and speed to serve digital moving map data directly from its compact flash memory cards, which eliminates the need for storage elsewhere in the system, Collins Aerospace officials say.

[URL]https://www.militaryaerospace...9/electronic-warfare-ew-data-storage-avionics[/URL]
 

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First real world mission for the King: recovering the downed SAR MH-60S, as a pair of VMX-1 King Stallions were at 29 Palms for OT & E.


cheers
 

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