UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — The U.S. Marine Corps just got its most powerful helicopter ever.
On May 16, the service took delivery of its first CH-53 King Stallion heavy lift helicopter at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina.
The CH-53K has been in development since 2006 and is slated to replace the Marine Corps’ nearly 40-year-old CH-53E Super Stallion fleet.
One of the most powerful helicopters in the entire Defense Department’s arsenal, the CH-53K is capable of lifting 27,000 pounds — three times the weight of its predecessor — for distances of 100 miles.
Despite Wednesday’s delivery, the King Stallion isn’t slated to be operational until sometime in 2019.
The Corps will now conduct tests and operational assessments of the aircraft before it moves forward with plans to field 200 CH-53Ks over the coming years.