The CH-53K King Stallion heavy transport helicopter has successfully completed several inflight refuelling tests with a United States Marine Corp KC-130J Super Hercules tanker.
The test flight took place at the beginning of April off the east coast of the United States and lasted several hours.
The Sikorsky family of CH-53 transport helicopters has been newly developed and the refuelling test marked another major milestone for its progress.
In Germany the CH-53K is now in the running for the Bundeswehr’s “Schwerer Transporthubschrauber STH” procurement project; the decision of which heavy transport helicopter to buy is expected to come at the beginning of 2021.
The first aircraft could be delivered starting in 2024, thus enabling a seamless transition from the current CH-53G fleet, coupled with training of personnel and putting the necessary logistics in place necessary for operating in Germany.
By this time, the CH53 helicopters supplied to the USMC will already be fully operational, and Marine flight crews and maintenance technicians will be able to draw on their experience to assist in initial training of Bundeswehr personnel.
The transition from the CH-53G now in service with the Bundeswehr to the new STH fleet of heavy transport helicopters is to be complete by 2032.