WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 24 (UPI) -- Sikorsky Aircraft's CH-53K King Stallion cargo helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps has hefted a 27,000-pound external payload lift.
The out-of-ground-effect external load test -- at 100 feet above the ground while performing hover maneuvers -- was conducted at Sikorsky's Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky's parent company, said an OGE load is the most stressful of lift conditions for a helicopter from a power required standpoint.
"This 27,000 pound external lift is yet another key milestone for the program," said Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky vice president of CH-53K Programs. "The King Stallion achieved this external lift with ease, and we are on track to successfully complete the initial operational assessment this year."
In flight testing, the CH-53K has already flown at speeds of more than 140 knots.
A total of three units are involved in testing and a fourth is expected to join the flight test program this summer.
"Lifting 27,000 pounds in OGE conditions is another key milestone for the program, which further confirms our confidence in the design and performance of the aircraft," said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for the Naval Air Systems Command's Heavy Lift Helicopters Program. "This is the most strenuous condition we had to demonstrate from a performance standpoint prior to achieving Milestone 'C' and entering production."
The King Stallion features a glass cockpit, fly-by-wire flight controls and a payload capacity that is more than triple that of its predecessor, the CH-53E.
The U.S. Department of Defense intends to procure 200 CH-53Ks. The first four of the 200 are scheduled for delivery next year.