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The U.S. Marine Corps has reported that Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallions of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 have participated in their first fleet exercise and met all expectations.
“The CH-53K is more powerful, safer and an easier-to-maintain helicopter,” said Lt. Col. Adam Horne, commanding officer of HMH 461, in a U.S.M.C news report on the flight. “That’ll allow each wing commander more capacity to sustain the Marine Air-Ground Task Force in an austere environment.”
The CH-53K was issued its IOC (initial operating capability) in April 2022, with HMH 461 bring the first operational unit to receive the new variant. The King Stallion is already making a significant impact within the Corps.
“The benefits are endless,” said Staff Sgt. James Ganieany, airframes division chief for HMH 461. “We practice our external [lifts] with a light armoured vehicle [LAV], and we never have power issues.”
“Routinely training with a LAV for an external load, to me, is absolute mind boggling,” said Staff Sgt. Dakota Schneider, a crew chief instructor with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1. “It’s got power for days; you can do anything you want.”