The Corps’ rotary-wing fleet will get the first four CH-53K Super Stallion helicopters delivered in 2018.
The CH-53K is meant to replace the fleet of aging CH-53E Super Stallions, which have the worst readiness problems of all Marine Corps aircraft. Those older aircraft were left in Iraq for years at a time during the peak of the Iraq war, when dust and relentless daily missions severely degraded their condition and capabilities.
The CH-53K helicopters will go through further testing next year and in 2019 before being delivered to the operational fleet. As of now, the Marine Corps expects to have its first four CH-53K helicopters with combat-ready crews logistically prepared to deploy in 2019.
The Corps is also in the process of repairing and refurbishing all 146 of its CH-53Es. As of December, the Marines had overhauled 13 CH-53Es, which will continue this coming year.
“By 2019, the CH-53E community will have the right amount of up-aircraft to achieve and maintain the optimal readiness through the end of their service life and Full Operational Capability of the CH-53K in 2029,” said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns.