The Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter began degraded visual environment (DVE) testing at the U.S Army Yuma Proving Ground in September 2018. The CH-53K has the ability to get in and out of critical situations quickly, reducing exposure of its passengers and crew in hostile environments. Degraded Visual Environments (DVE) affect helicopter operations and flight safety for armed forces around the world. NLR is involved in tackling this issue by analysing operational requirements and by evaluating proposed solutions. Dust, snow or water thrown up by the rotor blades’ downwash cause helicopter flight crews to lose outside world visual references in critical mission phases such as take-off and landing. Brownout, whiteout and water spray are demanding for the flight crew since they cause a reduction in situation awareness.
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is a large, heavy-lift cargo helicopter currently being developed by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The design features three 7,500 shp (5,590 kW) engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider aircraft cabin than previous CH-53 variants. It will be the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military. The USMC plans to receive 200 helicopters at a total cost of $25 billion. Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) testing started in April 2014; flight testing began with the maiden flight on 27 October 2015. In May 2018 the first CH-53K was delivered to Marine Corps.
The CH-53K is a general redesign of the CH-53E. The main improvements are new engines and cockpit layout. The CH-53K will have over twice the lift capacity and radius of action of the CH-53E, and a wider cargo hold to allow it to carry a Humvee internally. The CH-53K will feature new stubby composite sponsons to cut overall width, giving the helicopter a narrower footprint for shipboard operations. It will also be equipped with a new composite rotor blade system, with technology similar to that currently found on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The CH-53K will use the General Electric GE38-1B engine. This engine beat out the Pratt and Whitney Canada PW150 and a derivative of the Rolls-Royce AE 1107C-Liberty used on the V-22 Osprey.