Newest US Marines helicopter conducts air-to-air refueling while transporting F-35

  • A US Marines CH-53K helicopter transported an F-35C
  • During the journey, the US Marines’ newest helicopter refueled from a KC-130T
  • The maneuver, captured on camera, appears to have been performed over the coast

Published on May 01, 2024 at 6:44 PM (UTC+4)
by Adam Gray

Last updated on May 02, 2024 at 6:50 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

Newest US Marines helicopter conducts air-to-air refueling while transporting F-35

Incredible footage has emerged of the US Marines’ newest helicopter transporting an F-35 while carrying out air-to-air refuelling.

The video shows the US Marines flying a CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter with the airframe of an F-35C Lightning jet below it.

It was captured as the King Stallion carried the inoperable aircraft from the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Patuxent River, Maryland to a navy unit located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

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The video is nothing short of fascinating, just like this perfect perspective of The Blue Angels’ diamond takeoff which will leave you awestruck.

The USAF Thunderbirds performing synchronized maneuvers will get your pulse racing, too.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will probably have spotted that the F-35C in the video was without its mission and propulsion systems.

It was also without its outer wings, as it was being transported to the Prototype, Manufacturing, and Test (PMT) department of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst for use in future emergency recovery systems testing.

The video released shows the helicopter refueling from a KC-130T during the flight, which appears to have been performed over the coast to avoid overflying populated areas.

The most powerful helicopter ever developed by the US government, the CH-53K is the US Marines‘ heavy lift equipment replacement for the CH-53E.

The new-build helicopter will continue to fill the CH-53E Super Stallion’s mission as a pillar of logistics and assault support for the US Marines’ efforts, but with significant improvements.

These include state-of-the-art, fly-by-wire technology reducing pilot workload, contributing to aircraft stability, and improving overall safety.

The King Stallion is designed to carry 27,000 lbs (12,247 kg) at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles (203 km), in Navy high/hot environments.

That’s almost triple the baseline of the CH-53E, while its maximum external lift capacity is 36,000 lbs (16,329 kg).

What’s more, the CH-53K is also designed to have a smaller shipboard footprint compared to the CH-53E.

It’s also got lower operating costs per aircraft, and fewer direct maintenance man-hours per flight hours, as well as the ability to land and take-off in a degraded visual environment.

This includes the so-called ‘brown out’, one of the most dangerous phenomena when operating in dusty environments like the desert.


Adam Gray

Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.