CH-53K IOC Could Shift, But Currently on Track
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Despite recent reports that the CH-53K’s initial operational capability (IOC) goal of December 2019 was in jeopardy, Col. Henry Vanderborght told reporters at the annual Sea-Air-Space exposition that everything was on track. However, he conceded it could shift.
The Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation wrote in a report earlier this year the CH-53K was unlikely to meet its goal of a December 2019 IOC due to continued technical problems with the heavy-lift helicopter.
But Vanderborght claimed that “current metrics all show current status to be the end of 2019,” and there is no reason to doubt that the program will meet that goal.
“We do have things to complete between now and then,” he said. “There are some deficiencies we are going to be correcting. Most are well underway on being correct. We still have some work to do, some flight tests to finish. Because of that, it’s not a zero-risk proposition.”
However, Vanderborght argued that the Marines would not be deploying the CH-53K until the 2023-24 time frame, and so there was plenty of margin built into the schedule if there was to be a slip in the IOC beyond 2019.
“At this point, I don’t think [the margin] is needed,” he said