Thursday, November 12, 2009

Israel drops interest in V-22, eyes CH-53K evaluation



The Israeli air force has abandoned its evaluation of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey and is instead showing interest in the capabilities of Sikorsky's developmental CH-53K. Israel confirmed in 2007 that it was evaluating the V-22 tiltrotor, but an air force source says its interest has now been terminated. "The V-22 is not on our current list," the source adds.

The need for a new vertical take-off and landing aircraft became more acute following a decision to phase out some of the air force's legacy CH-53s. As an interim measure, it is prolonging the service lives of some of these aircraft by upgrading them to the CH-53 2025 configuration.

"We will wait for the CH-53K and evaluate it when it flies," says the air force source. The new type will maintain almost all the basic capabilities of Sikorsky's previous CH-53E, but will be capable of lifting a much heavier payload.

The US Marine Corps is expected to begin operating the new K-model transport from around the middle of the next decade.The CH-53K’s maximum gross weight will increase to 84,700 pounds, versus 73,000 pounds for the CH-53E. It is being designed to carry a cargo load of 27,000 pounds (13.5 tons) 110 nautical miles, operating at an altitude of 3,000 feet and an ambient temperature of 91.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This is nearly double the capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallions.

The most important new addition to the CH-53K will be its GE38 engines. The military is hoping for 18% better specific fuel consumption, even though the engine would produce 57% more power than the similarly sized T64 engine. To improve maintenance and reliability, the GE38 is also expected to have 63% fewer parts.

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