USMC’s King Stallion conducts first fleet exercise

The US Marine Corps’ (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter has conducted the first fleet exercise with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461.

With three times the lift capability of its predecessor, the CH-53K is the new heavy-lift solution for the naval force. The exercise marks a step forward for the US Marine Corps.

helicopter
Photo: US Marines

Mountain Home, Idaho, was chosen as the first deployment for training for the King Stallion because it provided a new climate and terrain features distinct from North Carolina, HMH-461’s home state.

The benefits are endless,” said Staff Sgt. James Ganieany, airframes division chief for HMH-461. “We practice our external [lifts] with a Light Armored Vehicle, and we never have power issues. HMH-461 had its first operational flight for the CH-53K in April 2022, and have been training with it ever since.”

“Routinely training with an 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.”

The CH-53K can fly at higher altitudes, for longer distances and in hotter conditions than the CH-53E. HMH-461 used these qualities at Mountain Home to assist in future CH-53K production and employment.

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Photo: US Marines