Sikorsky Aircraft’s new CH-53K helicopters based on CT “could just as easily be a spaceship”



The new Sikorsky CH-53K resembles its predecessors which have been in service with the United States Marine Corps since the Vietnam War. But the similarities are only superficial, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Wise.

The CH-53K is the successor to the CH-53E Super Stallion, which first flew in 1974. But the advancement in technology means it’s essentially a whole new aircraft, Wise said.

“People think it’s a CH-53E with some upgrades,” he said. “But in comparison, it might as well be a spaceship.”

Wise was among a group of elected officials and Sikorsky’s leadership who presented the new helicopter at an official event on Friday. Company president Paul Lemmo agreed that the new K-series, dubbed the King Stallion, represented a huge leap in aviation technology.

The King Stallion is expected to fulfill the role of heavy load and cargo transport for the Marines for the next 30 years.

“If you were to look at this next to the 53E, you’d think they look a lot alike,” Lemmo said, pointing to the helicopter – the first production model to be delivered to military service to roll off the assembly line – which was parked inside a shed at the Sikorsky manufacturing plant in Stratford.

Among the advancements of the new 53K over its predecessor are double the lift capacity – up to 27,000 pounds, Lemmo said.

“It has more advanced motors, more advanced rotors, and it’s completely computer controlled,” Lemmo said. “Its digital flight controls could allow it to fly almost on its own if the pilot had a problem or if there was no visibility.”

Marine Col. Jack Perrin, who describes himself as a “53 guy” who runs the Marines heavy lift helicopter program, predicted great things for the program and the individual helicopter on display.

“It will save lives,” he said. “Someone’s going to fly this plane into a combat zone. He’s going to provide them with the things they need and take them out when they need to move. It’s amazing.

Perrin said he had about 2,500 hours aboard the previous generation CH-53s and had “never had a bad experience” in one.

“I had a lot of tough days, but it always brought me home,” he said.

While the new CH-53K isn’t saving lives yet, it is saving equipment, said Stephanie Hill, executive vice president of rotary and mission systems for Sikorsky’s parent company Lockheed Martin.

A pre-production model recovered an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter that suffered a hard landing on a high-altitude ridge earlier this month.

“Only one unit had the capacity to carry out the mission without taking the helicopter apart,” she said. Seeing photos of the rescue had filled her with “immense pride and joy,” she said.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Acknowledged that Sikorsky’s workforce is an important link in the chain, from aircraft designers and parts suppliers to pilots who will fly missions. combat or humanitarian.

“When we write military budgets, I can tell you, I say, ‘You have to see this to believe it, for it is a wonderful feat of engineering,'” he said. To someone present at the start of the helicopter flight, modern airplanes would be “almost unintelligible,” he said.

According to Lemmo, the CH-53K program provides for the production of 200 aircraft over 15 years. With the first production helicopter complete, the assembly rate will gradually increase over the next three to four years until the company builds a King Stallion roughly every 20 days.

The aircraft’s production line employs 170 workers, “but not counting the engineering and design departments” and the workers who will manufacture the parts and perform maintenance, he said.



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