Sikorsky CH-53/MH-53

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Product Type:

CH-53: Heavy-Lift Transport Helicopter
MH-53: Heavy-Lift + Mine Countermeasures
and Special Mission Helicopter

Using Service (US):

Navy (MH-53E); Marine Corps (CH-53D/E)

Program Status:

No new aircraft will be purchased
until FY 2017 with the launch of the CH-53K

Prime Contractor:

Sikorsky Aircraft (Lockheed Martin)

The CH-53E Super Stallion

About the CH–53 and MH-53:

The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is a heavy-lift transport helicopter designed to transport personnel, supplies and equipment in support of amphibious and shore operations. It has a seven-blade main rotor and a four-blade canted tail rotor and is powered by three General Electric T64-GE-416A turboshaft engines, each rated at 4,380 shp. The CH-53E is capable of lifting heavy equipment including the LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle, the M198 155mm Howitzer. Also, the Super Stallion can recover all rotorcraft in the U.S. Marine Corps' inventory.

The older CH-53D Sea Stallion was a medium-lift helicopter designed to transport personnel, supplies and equipment in support of amphibious and shore operations. It has six main rotor blades and is powered by two General Electric T64-GE-413 turboshaft engines, each rated at 3,925 shp. After more than 40 years of service, the Marine Corps retired the CH-53D on February 10, 2012.

The U.S. Navy's MH-53E Sea Dragon is very similar to the CH-53E but comes with additional capabilities for airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM), vertical on-board delivery, and special missions which require longer range and more precise navigation than that of the CH-53E. It is equipped with the 8,000 pound AN/ALQ-166 minesweeping sled, the Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-14 side-scan mine hunting sonar, and the AN/ALQ-141 mine countermeasures pod. The MH-53E is currently being upgraded with the AN/AQS-232 Airborne Mine Neutralization System-SeaFox (AMNS-SF) from Lockheed Martin.

The new CH-53K King Stallion provides improvements in range and payload, performance, cargo handling and turn-around times, reliability and maintainability, interoperability, and survivability. In 2004, it was determined that a new build airframe would be a more cost-effective solution relative to upgrading existing CH-53 helicopters. In late 2006, the General Electric GE38-1B turboshaft engine (7,500 shp) was selected to power the CH-53K. With the new engines, the CH-53K will be able to fly 20 kts/23 mph (37 km/h) faster than the CH-53E. Other key subcontractors are Cobham (composite rotor blade assemblies), Eaton (primary hydraulic system and integrated fuel system), Aurora Flight Sciences (main rotor pylon), Exelis (tail rotor pylon and sponsons), Onboard Systems International (external cargo hook system), Rockwell Collins (Avionics Management System - AMS), Sanmina-SCI (intercommunications system), and Spirit AeroSystems (composite cockpit and cabin fuselage sections), and GKN Aerospace (aft transition fuselage section).

According to Sikorsky, the CH-53K will be able to conduct an unrefueled mission with a 110 nm/127 mile (204 km) radius with a 27,000 lbs (12,247 kg) external payload at an altitude of 3,000 ft (914 m). This is twice of what the CH-53E is able to carry flying same mission. The CH-53K can lift a maximum external load of 36,000 lbs (16,330 kg). It will also feature an integral cargo handling system with capacity for two 463L standard pallets, thus eliminating/reducing the need to repackage supplies between airlifter and helicopter. Sikorsky estimates that the new aircraft will provide a 42% reduction in direct maintenance cost as well as a 63% reduction in maintenance man-hours per flight hour.

The avionics package will include the Avionics Management System (AMS) state-of-the-art "glass" cockpit from Rockwell Collins, which incorporates five fully integrated active matrix liquid crystal multifunction flight and navigation displays; net centric capabilities including tactical data link; fly-by-wire electronic flight controls; digital moving map; integrated forward looking infrared (FLIR) system with helmet-mounted navigational displays and defensive electronic countermeasures.

After a year of delays, the CH-53K made its first flight on October 27, 2015. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is scheduled for FY 2019. The plan, as of March 2016, is to purchase a total of 194 CH-53K helicopters from FY 2017 to FY 2028 (production units). When the CH-53K enters service, it will serve as the Marine Corp's heavy-lift helicopter, with the MV-22B Osprey and UH-1Y Venom performing the medium- and light-lift missions.


The CH-53D/E and MH-53E are equipped with two XM218 .50 BMG machine guns.

CH-53K Production Forecast:

A 15-year CH-53K production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, worldwide inventories, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year CH-53K production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Rotorcraft Forecast service.


The CH-53 provides land and ship based transport of heavy equipment, supplies, and personnel. The MH-53 also provides a mine countermeasures and special missions capability.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - CH-53/MH-53 DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Sikorsky, Rockwell Collins,
and General Electric Co.

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Rotorcraft Forecast:

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Forecast International Budget Data:

With Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, you not only get the latest program news, the DoD funding, worldwide inventories and planned quantities, long range forecasts, but most important – an expert's rationale for all programs and the overall market.

DoD Spending in FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018 + 5-year forecast

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