The U.S. Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion aced an air-to-air refueling test this week, successfully demonstrating long-range logistics support capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps. The 4.5-hour test was accomplished over the Chesapeake Bay with a KC-130J aerial refueling (AR) tanker.
“The aircraft went to the tanker this week and it was very successful, proving it is a long-range vertical logistic workhorse,” said Col. Jack Perrin, H-53 heavy lift helicopters (PMA-261) program manager.
According to the CH-53K test team, the wake survey test assessed the performance of the aircraft when flying behind the tanker in strong, turbulent air. The aircraft’s crew successfully plugged the drogue, a funnel shaped basket towed behind the KC-130J. These tests were performed at increasing closure rates to ensure the CH-53K can handle the forces on the refueling probe when contacting the drogue during aerial refueling.
“The aircraft was able to meet the desired performance for all engagements,” said Perrin. “The ‘K’ is the long-range enabler that we need now and into the future.”
The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion continues to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K timeline, moving toward completion of developmental test, leading to initial operational test and evaluation in 2021 and first fleet deployment in 2023-2024.