Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 pilots and engineers based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River have completed sea trials of the CH-53K King Stallion.

The trials offered developmental test information regarding the aircraft and can also change the way a squadron carries our similar tests in the future.

A 96-man test team boarded the USS Wasp (LHD 1) in early June to conduct a series of intensive tests to establish the performance range during day and night take-offs and recovery of the helicopter from different wind speeds and conditions.

The exercise was aimed at testing the engaging, disengaging, folding, and unfolding of the rotors in different wind conditions, and to permit the Sikorsky and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 maintenance crews to practice working on the aircraft.

CH-53K sea trials project officer Joshua Foxton said: “Typically you include more test points than you can reasonably expect to accomplish, which gives us greater flexibility in executing the plan.

“But due largely to the success of the aircraft, we were able to accomplish all of our objectives while we were underway.”

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Team members on the Wasp completed 32 hours of flying over the 14-day detachment period. Around one third of the flying was carried out in the night.

The team completed 364 landing, with 74 carried out using night vision devices.

In March this year, the US Navy’s amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17) started sea trials after undergoing an extensive maintenance period.