In 2019 the Marine Corps’ next heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K King stallion, overcame some of its largest technical issues, setting it on a path to take its initial operational test and evaluation in 2021.

The King Stallion ― boasting a maximum external lift of 36,000 pounds and the capability of moving 27,000 pounds 110 nautical miles ― originally was expected to hit the fleet in 2019, but more than 100 technical issues set that date back two years.

In late 2020 a suite of trainers, including a portable flight simulator and full-scale mock-up of the helicopter called the Composite Maintenance Trainer meant to get mechanics used to the new helicopter, were approved and shipped to Marines with VMX-1, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

If the helicopter passes the initial operational test it is expected to make its first deployment sometime in 2023 or 2024.

This is an excerpt from “21 Things Marines Need To Know For 2021,” in the January print edition of Marine Corps Times.

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