A CH-53K King Stallion completed a two-week period of sea trials in the Atlantic last month.

This was the first opportunity to see the aircraft working in a modern naval environment, say Naval Air Systems Command here.

Testing took place on the USS Wasp, a landing helicopter dock operated by the U.S. Navy.

“I’m very pleased with how the ship tests went,” said Col. Jack Perrin, H-53 helicopters program manager.

“We were able to assess the K taking off and landing day, night, and with night vision goggles and it performed extremely well.”

According to the CH-53K integrated test team, the sea trials are a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the aircraft at sea.

“Tests performed during the two weeks included: launch and recovery; rotor start and shutdown; blade fold; and shipboard compatibility testing – all in increasing wind speed and varying wind directions relative to the aircraft.”

Ship compatibility testing includes towing the aircraft around the deck and in the hangar, performing maintenance while aboard the ship, ensuring the aircraft fits in all the locations it needs to around the ship deck and hangar, and evaluating chain/tie-down procedures.

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I can tell you that this model of the Sea Stallion will be a game changer for the USMC. This aircraft (like the Super Hornet) just LOOKS like its predecessor, in reality it is an entirely different and new aircraft that has been built to the dimensions of the previous SK to avoid having to modify ships and infrastructure to receive it.



Nick C

It would be really good to get some mega heavy lift like this from our carriers, having folding rotors makes it so much easier to use from a ship. The chances of this happening in the present climate, or even a future one, zero.


Shame but the Osprey would be better if we were going to get something new for the RN as it has options we don’t currently have.

But the Osprey can’t carry as many troops as the chinook though, but the Osprey has double the range! But also has almost double the cost of flying it! And am I right in the fact the king stallion is far more expensive than the v22 Osprey yeah?

In balance I think the chinook is a great and Maybe the best heavy lift platform for the British Military.


Ex U.S. Army F models might become available at firesale prices. Who knows? The MoD might bite at a good price.



Yes, the CH53K is the most expensive helicopter so far produced. Initial cost per airframe has jumped to about $130 million due to delays. It is hoped that the cost will come down significantly once in full scale production, the thoughts are it will targeted to be above $80 million per frame.


Perhaps the lease route is available? The aircraft could then either be bought outright at the end or sold on. I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to dispose of ex RN or AAC airframes.


Nick C

Not sure whether our Civil Servants understand leases! And at north of $100m each I reckon that people would want a few more F35’s rather than the cost of a new type of helo.


Hi Nick,

Isn’t the RAF tanker fleet leased? Or is it a private firm hired to provide the tankers?


Nick C

Indeed it is, and there is much heat and little light generated whenever the cost versus benefit of the deal is discussed. I suspect that having seen a very long term big ticket deal in operation no civil servant would volunteer to try and write another lease. I may be wrong, of course.


Why on earth would British carriers need heavy lift? Not even the US nuclear super carriers need or have it.

Nick C

Absolutely true. What I should have said was that it would be good to have to get the bootnecks and their kit ashore. And that depends on whether or when one of the carriers is ever set up as an LPH, which appears up in the air at present.


But the American Marines 8 wasp class LHD carriers that also carry the F35b do have heavy lift, and the Royal Navy carriers are more like them than the Ford class supercarriers in my opinion. And the Royal Navy’s carriers will also host Royal Marine commandos And Their choppers and gear, and will operate similar to the yank Marine Wasp class ships, but I Suppose 7 Squadron RAF do provide heavy lift chinooks for speacial force’s and no doubt marines too don’t they? It would be great to have a Royal Marine heavy lift capability though. But sadly this won’t… Read more »


I agree that this is a step change compared to the previous E version, the cabin is 1ft wider for starters, but its overall fuselage width is no greater. I think its the only Western helicopter that can take a Humvee inside? With 22,500shp power this thing can dead lift 36,000lbs (16,300 kg), compared to the Chinook’s near 24250lbs (11,000kg). There is a problem with the premise that it would be the ideal platform for the US Army’s future heavy lift requirement. The US Army have stated that they require an aircraft that can keep pace with the FLA, so… Read more »


Hey Davey, I think it’s not only the range and speed that are considerations for the next U.S. Army heavy lifter, it’s also the ability to carry the JLTV and other emerging equipment over tactical ranges repeatedly in the course of an operation. The Chinook (BOY, have I had a couple of exciting moments in C models that just decided to stop flying!) just doesn’t have that ability and without it, an air assault with units so equipped would be impossible. The JLTV is a big part of the TO&E for most U.S. Army units. The Ch47 is a good… Read more »


Only been in a chinook once and that one time it had issues and decided it wanted to go to ground quite heavily and sit on a Falklands moor for the rest of the day.
Lynx, Sea King, Merlin… Never an issue… But Chinooks… Once bitten twice shy!


The C model was an accident waiting to happen with many of its components – and did. I was very sadly on hand for this tragedy. Walnut grit… The D models and above are excellent aircraft with a good safety record which is what the troops deserve.




I agree, I think the Chinook is currently the best battlefield support helicopter. The reason for this is its ruggedness, but also perhaps more importantly it is still easy to repair. To be brutally honest, I don’t think the Israelis are too bothered by range, as most of their issues are on the door step. Unless we include Iran. Both The Chinook and CH53K can be aerial refueled, so that really doesn’t sway the decision and the “fat tank” Chinook has twice the range of standard one if it really required. There is very little more that can be done… Read more »


If there was spare money, i think the navy should firstly invest in more Merlins ahead of the V22.

They just don’t have enough to support the carriers plus the frigates / destroyers.


Totally agree. The Merlin carries adaquate loads for our forces. The yanks drooled over our Merlins when we visited them in the early 2000s. And its still better than the Stallion, but I might be a little biased !!!


Excellent points and knowledge!



I saw a drawing some time ago of a C130 aircraft body with 2 main wings and 4 tiltrotors like two V-22’s mated together but with a 20t capacity.


Bell/Boeing were contracted by the US DoD to investigate the feasibility of a quad tilt rotor. They produced a number of models and wind tunnel tested them. There has always been a worry that the forward rotor’s spinning airmass would disrupt the aft rotor’s. The testing has shown that so long as there is a vertical split between the forward and aft rotors the concept is doable. Bell/Boeing have produced a number of conceptual prototype models ranging in size from something that is comparable in size to a Chinook and ranging up something like a C130. Initially the DoD said… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Hybrid powered VTOL seems to be the future IMV for medium and heavy lift, with tilt rotor and fixed wing for flight efficiency, higher speed and greater range. I suspect it will also drive lower costs, reinforced by wider commercial applications. If the weight penalty can be supported, then an optional battery might enable higher peak power at takeoff and landing, as well as sound and thermal signature mitigation at select points in flight.


Why don’t we re-start the Rotodyne https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Rotodyne . That would be great for Carrier Delivery, could do Refuelling etc – it is basically the same as the osprey but a different solution to the problem. Sure we could resolve the noise issue and in fact they had pretty much done that before the program was shelved. We have the IP and could potentially be export as well and is likely to be less than Osprey. I know it will take a few years to get it going but a simpler design. May have to have folding blades and wings to… Read more »


The Rotodyne that was used for the demonstrations and airshows was just the prototype. The actual production version was going to be bigger and known as the Type Z. It was supposed to come in two flavours, a civil airliner and a military one. It had a larger fuselage, bigger rotor diameter and more powerful RR Tyne engines rated for over 4000shp. The full scale wooden mock-ups of each version were built by Fairey, who had by then been incorporated into Westlands. The aircraft was redisignated as the Type FA-1. The civil version could seat a maximum of 70 passengers… Read more »


No doubt a very good helicopter, but way too expensive at 100m. At that price i would rather have 2 new Chinooks.


Yeah, I agree, they are expensive, but dam they look good and can Cary a good load.


They are real beasts, and they can carry 3 tons more than the CH-47 Chinook!. Shame they cost so much Though, I would love the Royal Marines to have their own squadron of these beasts.


Yeah very nice, cheers Helions

Xander Anderson

Will the RN get the helicopters to replace the Merlin’s?