Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A team of industry and government engineers has solved ongoing engine integration problems for the U.S. Marine Corps newest heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter, after four years of delays.
The Ch-53K from Sikorsky, now part of Lockheed Martin, will replace the aging CH-53-E Super Stallion fleet with the new helicopters, powered by T-408 engines, that are faster and more fuel efficient than their predecessors.
"Bringing together the tiger team exemplifies the importance and purpose of an integrated test team," Col. Jack Perrin, PMA-261 program manager for the heavy-lift helicopter program office, said in a statement. "It was great to see the team turn the corner for the program and produce a resolution to an ongoing problem."
The engine integration issue involved a defect that allowed exhaust gases to get sucked back into the engine.
Flight test data on the issued presented to the Marine Corps this month showed the fix works and modifications will now be made to the aircraft, the branch said this week.
In development since 2006, the aircraft was originally expected to reach initial operational capacity by 2015.
Bloomberg first reported gearbox trouble last year, which moved the timeline to 2019, and the new fixes will likely push IOC to 2021, according to Marine Corps Times. First operational deployment of the helicopter, however, is still expected sometime in 2024.