Lockheed Martin announced the CH-53K King Stallion successfully completed an external lift of a 27,000 pound payload at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The aircraft executed an “out of ground effect” (OGE) external load test at 100 feet above the ground while performing hover maneuvers to demonstrate its excellent control authority in this flight regime. An OGE load is the most stressful of lift conditions for a helicopter from a power required standpoint.

OGE is defined as an altitude greater than the helicopter's main rotor diameter (79 feet in the King Stallion's case) where power demand greatly increases due to loss of the benefit of ground effect.

“This 27,000 pound external lift is yet another key milestone for the program,” said Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky Vice President, CH-53K Programs. “The King Stallion achieved this external lift with ease, and we are on track to successfully complete the initial operational assessment this year.”

The CH-53K has already achieved speeds exceeding 140 knots, and a third CH-53K King Stallion helicopter has joined the flight test program thereby accelerating the pace to full aircraft maturity and production. The first two aircraft have already verified the King Stallion’s capabilities well in excess of the predecessor CH-53E. A fourth King Stallion is currently in final preparation for flight status and on track to join the flight test program this summer.

The U.S. Department of Defense's Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft. The first four of the 200 are scheduled for delivery next year to the USMC. An additional four aircraft are under long lead procurement for parts and materials with delivery scheduled in 2019. USMC initial operating capability is scheduled for 2019.