WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- A ground test vehicle prototype of the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter by Sikorsky Aircraft has been delivered to a test team, the company announced.
The helicopter, which is expected to take flight in 2014-15, is being developed for the U.S. Marine Corps and will replace the CH-53E starting in 2019.
"The primary purpose of the GTV is to shake out the CH-53K helicopter's dynamic systems by thoroughly testing and measuring the performance of the rotor blades, transmission and engines while the aircraft is tied to the ground," said Michael Torok, Sikorsky's CH-53K Program vice president.
"Extensive ground-based flight checks with Sikorsky and NAVAIR test pilots at the cockpit controls will confirm whether these dynamic systems, as well as hydraulic, electrical, and avionics systems, can meet the requirements established by the Marines for their next-generation heavy lift helicopter."
Sikorsky said the CH-53K will triple the external load carrying capacity to more than 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under "high hot" ambient conditions. The aircraft will feature 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B engines; a split torque transmission design; fourth-generation composite rotor blades; and a composite airframe.