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

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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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