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Heavy-lift helicopters test external load capabilities

The new Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift transport helicopter has conducted it first external lift of a 12,000-pound payload.Sikosky

The lift test was performed by a demonstrator aircraft by Sikorsky, which recently became part of Lockheed Martin.

“Achieving our first external lift signifies another milestone for the CH-53K King Stallion program,” said Mike Torok, Sikorsky’s vice president of CH-53K programs. “Our flight envelope expansion efforts remain on track, and we continue to make good progress toward our initial operational test assessment later this year, and ultimately full aircraft system qualification.”

Under the company’s lift extension project for the King Stallion, both demonstrator aircraft will be exercised to expand the external load envelope – from an initial external payload of 12,000 pounds in a hover mode, to as much as 27,000 pounds at speeds up to as much as 120 knots.

The King Stallion is to replace U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters. The Department of Defense Program of Record calls for procurement of 200 of the helos.

The CH-53K King Stallion is equipped with single, dual and triple external cargo hook capability, allowing for the transfer of three independent external loads to three separate landing zones in support of distributed operations in one single sortie without having to return to a ship or other logistical hub. The three external cargo hooks include a single center point hook with a 36,000-pound capability and dual-point hooks each capable of carrying up to 25,200 pounds.

Other features include fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth-generation rotor blades; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking U.S. Air Force pallet-compatible cargo rail system; and a locking U.S. Air Force pallet-compatible cargo rail system.

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