USNS SPEARHEAD (JHSV 1), first of a planned 10 joint high speed vessels the U.S. Navy is buying for the Military Sealift Command (MSC), was delivered from Austal USA on Dec. 5.
Although the all-aluminum vessel completed its acceptance trials on Aug. 16, several delays — including the need to repaint the twin-hulled catamaran’s underbody — kept the vessel at the shipyard in Mobile, Ala. Now, according to MSC, the SPEARHEAD will carry out operational testing before heading to Little Creek, Va. and entering service by the end of this year.
The high-speed craft will be crewed by 22 civil service mariners working for MSC who will operate, navigate and maintain the ship.
First Test Body of new CH-53K Heavy-Lift Helicopter Program delivered
The U.S. Marine Corps is buying a new, upgraded and vastly improved version of the venerable H-53 heavy-lift helicopter to begin replacing older aircraft in 2019. On Dec. 4, Sikorsky delivered the first ground test vehicle (GTV) of the new K model at its facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Engineers from Sikorsky and the Naval Air Systems Command will prepare and test the GTV aircraft for hundreds of hours of powered ground checks ahead of four follow-on flight test helicopters that will take to the skies during 2014-15, the company said in a press release. The GTV will test the helicopter’s dynamic systems, including the rotor blades, transmission and engines, along with cockpit controls, hydraulic, electrical and avionics systems.
According to Sikorsky:
“Though designed to the same footprint size as the CH-53E Super Stallion™ helicopters they will begin to replace in 2019, CH-53K helicopters will triple the external load carrying capacity to more than 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “high hot” ambient conditions. Technology enablers for increased lift include 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B engines; a split torque transmission design that more efficiently distributes engine power to the main rotors; fourth-generation composite rotor blades for enhanced lift; and a composite airframe structure.
“Flight test engineers will spend the coming months performing preliminary acceptance tests that include calibrating the GTV’s fuel system and attaching measuring devices at more than 1,300 test locations on the aircraft to record temperature, aerodynamic loads, pressure and vibrations. By mid 2013, the GTV will be attached to a specially built outdoor platform to hold the aircraft in place when its three engines are powered on — a process known as a “light-off.” Initial light-off test events will be performed without rotor blades, followed by more rigorous tests with the blades attached.”
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