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Sikorsky touts CH-53K as potential FVL-Heavy offering to US Army

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  1. Zarvan

    Zarvan ELITE MEMBER

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    The CH-53K will be the most capable heavy-lift helicopter when it enters US Marine Corps service in 2019, and Sikorsky sees potential for the US Army to operate it under the FVL-Heavy effort also. Source: US Naval Air Systems Command
    Sikorsky is pitching its CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter as a potential solution for the US Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL)-Heavy requirement, a company official told IHS Jane's in early November.

    With the CH-53K now entering into the operational testing phase of its development ahead of the commencement of deliveries to the US Marine Corps (USMC), the programme vice-president Mike Torok said that the US Army's FVL-Heavy requirement presents an "interesting opportunity".

    "One interesting 'downstream' opportunity is for the US Army's FVL-Heavy requirement that will follow the FVL-Medium [now being developed by Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell Helicopter under the Joint MultiRole-Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) effort]," Torok said, adding, "We have done some assessments with the US Army, and have shown that right off the production line the CH-53K hits a significant number of the key capability requirements without any additional investment."

    The US Army plans to field its FVL-Medium replacement(s) for the current Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 helicopters in about the 2030 timeframe, to be followed by an FVL-Heavy replacement for the Boeing CH-47 Chinook from about 2040.

    Official performance parameters for FVL-Heavy have not yet been publically disclosed, but with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of close to 40,000 kg (with external load) the CH-53K will have the largest lift capacity of any helicopter in the US military when it begins entering USMC service in 2019. Other CH-53K performance specifications include a maximum speed of 170 kt; a range of 454 n miles or a radius of operation of 110 n miles with a 12,340 kg payload; and a service ceiling of 14,380 ft.

    While Torok conceded that, as it stands, the CH-53K does not meet all of the FVL-Heavy performance requirements, he suggested that it meets enough of them for the US Army to give it some serious consideration when the decision does finally come to be made, noting, "It will be an interesting discussion when we get to that point as to whether [the US Army] really needs the additional requirements, and if they have the budget for them."

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