STRATFORD, Conn., Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Sikorsky Aircraft reports all-composite rotor blades designed to increase the lift of U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K helicopters have undergone initial testing.
"These new blades are an important feature of the CH-53K helicopter's ability to lift almost three times the payload compared to the CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft it will replace later this decade," said Mike Torok, Sikorsky's CH-53K Program vice president. "Advanced geometric shaping, high-strength composite materials and a flaw-tolerant design all come into play to provide unmatched performance, reliability, and survivability."
The CH-53K, when introduced into service, will be the largest and heaviest helicopter used by the U.S. military and will be able to carry nearly 40 troops. It will have a gross weight of 88,000 pounds.
The new rotor blades by Sikorsky are 35 feet in length and feature unique airfoils, twist and taper to handle 71 percent greater power generated by the CH-53K aircraft's three 7,500-shaft-horsepower engines.
Sikorsky is producing all-composite tail rotor blades for its aircraft as well as main rotor blades.
The company said blade qualification testing will continue over several years. Included will be stress and fatigue tests and additional whirl tower testing to validate aerodynamic stability.
The CH-53K is expected to enter into service in 2018.