The CH-53K King Stallion will be the new transport helicopter for the IDF
The Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) has chosen Lockheed Martin's heavy-lift CH-53K King Stallion as the new Israel Defence Force᾿s (IDF) transport helicopter as replacement for the current CH-53 “Yas’ur”.
On 25 February 2021, the official press release mentioned that Defence Minister Gantz accepted the recommendations presented by the IDF Chiefs of the General Staff to select the CH-53K as the new heavy-lift helicopter. According to minister Gantz the type is essential to the IDF’s ability to carry out a wide range of operational activities. It is adapted to the Heyl Ha'Avir (IAF, Israeli Air Force) operational requirements and to the challenges of the changing battlefield.
The decision was made after extensive administrative work in which IAF personnel examined various flight platforms and evaluated aspects such as technology, engineering, maintenance, and more. The King Stallion will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material more rapidly. That power comes from three new General Electric T-408 engines, which are more powerful and more fuel efficient than the T-64 engines currently outfitted on the CH-53E. As noted by Sikorsky, the CH-53K is the most modern, intelligent and powerful heavy-lift helicopter on the market.
The King Stallion is designed and developed by Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed Martin. The company has ramped up production with more than thirty aircraft in various stages of build and is on track for deployment in 2023/24. It has achieved many milestones demonstrating its unique capabilities, including extensive fly-by-wire tests, initial sea trials and air-to-air refueling, as well as further exercises under operational conditions. Military aircrews and technicians are now training in preparation for initial operational testing this spring.
The IAF CH-53 Yasur fleet is operated by 114th Squadron The Night Leaders and 118th Squadron Nocturnal Birds of Prey, both based at Tel Nof air base (Israel), for more than fifty years. The King Stallion has nearly the same footprint as the CH-53D and it therefore requires no new infrastructure in Israel. The purchase will be part of an USD 2,74 billion (NIS 9 billion) arms deal with the USA, approved by a ministerial committee earlier this month, to supply the IAF with numerous aircraft and munitions. See the Scramble Magazine news item of 9 February 2021.
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Photos/images: Israeli Defence Force and Aviation Week