Hercules helps to establish CH-53K milestone
Posted on 22 May 2020 and read 493 times
In a flight lasting 4.5hr over Chesapeake Bay (an estuary in the US states of Maryland and Virginia) in early April, a Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter completed an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) test with the help of a US Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules tanker.
The CH-53K repeatedly demonstrated its ability to ‘capture and plug’ the drogue, withstanding turbulent air and the force on the refuelling probe at increased closure rates.
Rob Pupalaikis, the Sikorsky test pilot, said: “Air-to-air refuelling is a decisive ‘force multiplier’, and proving this capability on the CH-53K King Stallion significantly increases the combat potential of the US Marine Corps’ newest ‘workhorse’. The aircraft performed flawlessly during the testing and met all of the programme objectives.”
The KC-130J is the current production model and a variant of the C-130 Hercules, produced by the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics team; it can refuel fixed-wing, rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aircraft, as well as undertake rapid ground refuelling. The Hercules family of aircraft has served as the standard for tactical air refuelling for almost 60 years.
The successful air-to-air refuelling test means that the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter now has the ability to carry more Marines, cargo and equipment over longer ranges and in more challenging environments than any other ‘rotor-craft’ in the world.
Furthermore, the Sikorsky test team recently completed automatic blade-fold testing as part of the preparation for initial sea trials later this year.