CH-53K King Stallion: US Marines’ Latest Helicopter Can Carry Massive Payloads

Sikorsky delivered the first of the CH-53K King Stallions to the Marine Corps in 2022.
CH-53K King Stallion

This enhanced version of the Sikorsky CH-53 family, the CH-53K King Stallion, is a true flying monster able to move payloads that were never imagined for a helicopter in the past.

Its price tag is high, but all its features make this helicopter the future of the Marine Corps for transporting armaments, equipment, and personnel.

But, what makes this helicopter so special and why is such a large helicopter needed?


The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion

Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion by Robert Sullivan. Public Domain.

The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy-lift helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft.

The King Stallion is an evolved version of the highly successful CH-53 helicopter series in continuous service since 1966, and it is the biggest helicopter in the US.

Despite only being introduced into service in April 2022, this helicopter has already flown more than 3,000 hours, showing its capabilities to fly in a wide variety of missions. And the Marine Corps plans to receive 200 helicopters at a total cost of $25 billion.


CH-53E Super Stallion: the former heavyweight superstar

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Super Stallions fly into the sunset by Alexis Flores. Public Domain.

The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion was the largest helicopter in service until April 2022.

The Super Stallion made its first flight in 1974 and has been operating with the Marine Corps since 1981; and is still in service with over 200 units.

But it went out of production over 30 years ago and is expected to be replaced by the King Stallion in the coming years.


CH-53K King Stallion vs CH-53E Super Stallion

Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion by Robert Sullivan. Public Domain.

The King stallion is in production, but the expectations on this helicopter are immense since it has several improvements compared to the Super Stallion.

Due to improved avionics, it can operate with four crew instead of five in the Super Stallion… And, of course, it has a greater load capacity as it can lift 88,000 pounds (39,916 kilograms) compared to the 73,500 pounds (33,339 kilograms) of the Super Stallion.

It is also larger, faster, and can reach higher altitudes, making it a helicopter prepared to last several decades in service.


However, the Super Stallion won’t leave the service immediately. It will probably remain in service for many years until it is slowly phased out of service.

Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion specs

  • Role: Heavy-lift cargo helicopter
  • Manufacturer: Sikorsky Aircraft
  • Introduction: 22 April 2022
  • Status: In production
  • User: United States Marine Corps
  • Number built: 18
  • Crew: 4
  • Capacity: 30 passengers or troops 
  • External load hook rating: 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 88,000 pounds (39,916 kilograms) 
  • Length: 99 feet (30 meters)
  • Width: 17 feet 6 inches (5.33 meters) 
  • Height: 28 feet 4.9 inches (8.659 meters)
  • Fuel capacity: 2,286 gallons (8,650 liters) 
  • Cruise speed: 200 mph, 310 km/h
  • Range: 530 miles (850 kilometers)
  • Combat range: 130 miles (200 kilometers)
  • Service ceiling: 16,000 feet (4,900 meters) 

CH-53E Super Stallion specs

  • Role: Heavy-lift cargo helicopter
  • Manufacturer: Sikorsky Aircraft
  • Introduction: 1981
  • Status: In service
  • Users: United States Marine Corps / United States Navy / Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
  • Number built: 234
  • Crew: 5
  • Capacity: from 31 to 55 troops 
  • Internal payload: 32,000 pounds (14,515 kilograms)
  • External payload: 36,000 pounds (16,329 kilograms)
  • Length: 99 feet 0.5 inches (30.188 meters)
  • Height: 27 feet 9 inches (8.46 meters)
  • Max takeoff weight: 73,500 pounds (33,339 kilograms)
  • Maximum speed: 170 mph, 280 km/h 
  • Cruise speed: 140 mph, 220 km/h
  • Range: 620 miles (1,000 kilometers)
  • Service ceiling: 18,500 feet (5,600 meters)

The more expensive and biggest helicopter of the US Military

The price tag of each King Stallion is around $125 million. This means that this helicopter is even more expensive than any combat aircraft that the US Air Force has, including the famous and most advanced aircraft of the US military, the F-35.

Although its price may fluctuate, it will still be one of the most expensive aircraft in the United States, along with the V22-Osprey. So, this is one of the biggest investments of the Marine Corps ever.


The King Stallion will carry huge payloads to global US military bases

The King Stallion project has been quite controversial, but it is highly anticipated that its superior capabilities will justify the investment.

Actually, having the King stallion in the arsenal is a huge logistical advantage for quickly and efficiently transporting military equipment to conflict zones. It will surely improve the strategic edge of the US military in modern warfare.

Featured image credit: CH-53K King Stallion lifts a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle by US Navy. Public Domain.


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