The US Marine Corps' (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion has successfully completed its cross-country flight from Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility in Florida to Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Pax), Maryland.
The transition is the first of several flights that are slated to take place during this year and 2018 as part of the CH-53K flight test programme.
Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky CH-53K Programmes vice-president Dr Michael Torok said: “This first movement of CH-53K flight testing to our customer's facility denotes that the aircraft has achieved sufficient maturity to begin transitioning the focus of the test programme from envelope expansion to system qualification testing.
“This has been the plan from the beginning, and is another important step toward getting these fantastic aircraft into the hands of the USMC.”
The four CH-53K engineering development model (EDM) aircraft have already completed more than 450 hours of flight testing at Sikorsky's Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach.
The flight test programme will continue to operate under an Integrated Test Team (ITT), comprising personnel from Sikorsky, the US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the USMC.
Flight testing on CH-53K King Stallion will continue in both the locations throughout the transition period.
The CH-53K aircraft has been designed to replace the CH-53E Super Stallion, and offers three times more heavy-lift capability than its predecessor model.
The CH-53K King Stallion provides warfighters with enhanced safety features using its full authority fly-by-wire flight controls and mission management, which help reduce pilot workload and allows the crew to focus on mission execution.
Image: The CH-53K King Stallion arrives at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. Photo courtesy US Navy.