US Marines partner with navy to test future force operating concepts aboard CH-53K King Stallion

US Marines from Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron One conducted over-the-horizon heavy lift and troop transport ship-to-shore operations aboard CH-53K King Stallion with the US Navy over the Atlantic Ocean.

As informed, the exercises took place from 19 November until 21 November. These exercises, first for the US Marine Corps, are a critical component of their future force operating concepts, such as expeditionary advanced base operations and distributed operations.

“We are excited to continue advancing the Commandant’s vision of the future force by partnering with the Navy and finding ways to optimize how we operate and thrive in a strategic competition environment,” said VMX-1 Commanding Officer Col. Byron Sullivan. “We remain the nation’s naval expeditionary force; ready to fight in any clime or place at any time.”

VMX-1 is evaluating the King Stallion’s ability to meet program specification for the over-the-horizon heavy-lift evolution tested the King Stallion’s capability to transport a 27,000 lbs. light armored vehicle from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima to a landing zone ashore, according to the navy officials.

The troop transport evolution evaluated the King Stallion’s ability to move troops over the horizon to a location ashore and return to ship without refueling—covering as much as 220 nautical miles on their roundtrip.

Combat Logistics Battalion 24 and 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina provided personnel and equipment to assist VMX-1 with their testing, and sailors from the USS Iwo Jima assisted VMX-1 with shipboard and flight deck operations.

The Marine Corps is progressing through initial operational tests and evaluation of the CH-53Ks prior to fielding them to the Fleet Marine Force. Additionally, VMX-1 personnel will put the aircraft through rigorous evaluations in order to determine its suitability and effectiveness before arriving to the fleet.

“We have the most professional and capable individuals maintaining the aircraft and are also appreciative to the Blue-Green Team, who demonstrate the superb ability to operating harmoniously,” said VMX-1 CH-53K Detachment Operations Officer Maj. Joshua Banks.

US Marines received the first CH-53 King Stallion helicopter from Sikorsky in May 2018. The CH-53K is the new build replacement for the US Marine Corps’ aging CH-53E Super Stallion fleet.

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Photo: Sikorsky delivered the first of 200 CH-53K King Stallion Helicopters to the USMC from West Palm Beach, Florida, on May 16. Photo: US Marine Corps