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New Marine helicopter to be unveiled

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The first flight-test version of the U.S. Marine Corps’ new CH-53K helicopter will soon be unveiled to the public, a key general said April 28.

The “rollout” ceremony will occur May 5 at a Sikorsky Aircraft production facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., said Brig. Gen. Matthew Glavy, assistant deputy commandant for aviation for the Marines, who spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Flight testing of the new aircraft is scheduled to begin later this year.

The CH-53K is being developed to replace the Marines’ aging CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter. The Marines plan to buy 200 CH-53Ks and begin fielding them in 2019 to transport troops, equipment and supplies from ships to land.

Sikorsky announced April 10 that it has begun testing a full-sized, non-flying version of the CH-53K to confirm the airframe’s structural strength. The tests are taking place at a company plant in Stratford, Conn.

“By placing incrementally heavier static loads on various parts of the airframe assembly — including those well beyond the airframe’s analytical design strength — we can measure structural integrity, airworthiness and crash worthiness, and verify safety margins for all expected operational conditions,” said Mike Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K vice president.

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