The Helicopter that is more expensive than the F-35 fighter

The CH-53K King Stallion is the newest, most powerful, heaviest variant and also the most expensive transport helicopter of the US military. This line of helicopters is converging the quintessence of American super-heavy transport helicopter technology.

For the army, helicopters are an excellent air mobility vehicle. Heavy-duty transport helicopters can carry combat vehicles and even light armored vehicles, over rough terrain that other vehicles cannot reach.

On July 30, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) under the US Department of Defense, issued a notice to the US Congress that they plan to sell 18 Sikorsky CH-53 K King Stallion helicopters to the Israeli Army under the US Military Aid Program to Israel.

The Military Sales Program (FMS) includes heavy helicopters; The total program value is estimated at $3.4 billion, including training and technical support packages. This is the first time Stallion King helicopters received orders from a foreign country.

The Stallion King is a new generation three-engine heavy transport helicopter, developed by Sikorsky Helicopters (now a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin); The Stallion King flew for the first time in October 2015. This is currently the world’s second largest heavy helicopter in terms of take-off weight and payload, with a maximum take-off weight of nearly 40 tons and a carrying capacity of 15.8 tons (outer hook load capacity up to 16 tons).

Stallion King’s take-off weight index, currently second only to the Russian Mi-26 Halo helicopter; The Russian Mi-26 helicopter has a maximum take-off weight of 56 tons and a payload of 30 tons.

The Stallion King is also just “closer” to the “Advanced Heavy Helicopter” AHL, jointly produced by Russian Helicopters and China Aviation Industry Corporation AVIC. The AHL’s maximum take-off weight is 38 tons and payload is 15 tons.

As the successor to the CH-53E Super Stallion, the Stallion King helicopter is heavily upgraded from the inside out; Stallion King uses a glass cockpit and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system.

Israel CH-53D
Israel CH-53D

Stallion King uses a 6-blade main propeller. High-strength special synthetic material blades; The engine used three newly developed General Electric GE38-1B (T408) turboshaft engines, each with a takeoff capacity of 7,500 hp (5,600 kilowatts). The Stallion King’s engine has a much larger capacity, when compared to the General Electric T64-GE-416 engine mounted on the Super Stallion. The T64-GE-416 has only 4,380 hp (3,270 kilowatts) and the Stallion King’s cargo compartment is 15% larger than the Super Stallion.

However, the Stallion King helicopter was developed specifically for the US Marines, The US Army, Air Force, and Navy. The US Marine Corps plans to purchase 200 Stallion Kings to replace the approximately 150 CH-53D Sea Stallions in service. The total cost will be estimated at 25 billion USD and the unit price 125 million USD each.

But the selling price of Stallion King to foreign customers is much more expensive; unit price as high as 189 million USD/unit, more expensive than the stealth fighter F-35 exported to Switzerland not long ago (36 units for 6.5 billion USD, unit price 180 million USD/unit).

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) currently owns more than 20 CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters, the previous generation of the Super Stallion, Israel’s Yasur. Therefore, it makes sense to choose the latest Stallion King helicopter.

Currently, the Boeing CH-47F Chinook is cheaper than the Yasur heavy helicopter of the Israel Defense Forces; but has been in service since 1969 and Israel is in urgent need of replacement.

Even economy king Germany also directly said no to Stallion King. Currently, in the German army, there are 71 CH-53G Sea Stallion aircraft, which have been in service since 1972 and it is time to retire.

In September 2020, Germany canceled the tender “New Generation Heavy Helicopter (STH)”. The German side bluntly said that Sikorsky’s offer was twice the country’s defense budget, too expensive, and Germany denied the offer.

Why is Israel, a small country, but still dares to buy Stallion King helicopters? Actually, the reason is very simple, the US military aid billions of dollars to Israel every year; but not aid in cash, but with weapons, equipment and military means. It should be expensive, but in the end the Pentagon pays for it from its own pocket.

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