Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion is making progress in its development phase. The program has already transitioned from being flight tested by Sikorsky in its West Palm Beach facility to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

The move preceded the USMC awarding Sikorsky with a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract amounting to $300 million to procure two more Kings which will effectively open the new helicopter’s production line.

Flight testing in Patuxent River is the Marines’ initial testing base, though testing will continue at both locations. The transition flight of the King Stallion to Maryland from Sikorsky’s Test Facility in West Palm Beach Florida was a test itself, showing that the King can go the distance with a long cross-country flight. The flight included refueling stops along the way.

The development will continue under the supervision of the Integrated Test Team, which has the Marine Corps working side-by-side with Sikorsky conducting the tests. This is meant to provide a smoother transition from development to the operational phase, with Marine input being provided from the onset.

The Israeli Air Force is one of the 3 Air Arms to currently operate the Stallion’s previous models. Sikorsky sees the Israeli Air Force as a legitimate prospective buyer and IAF Officials have been briefed on the program’s progress.