Sikorsky CH-53/MH-53

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 2016 with the launch of the CH-53K

Prime Contractor:

Sikorsky Aircraft (United Technologies)

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 U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) plans to retire the MH-53E in the late 2020s to early 2030s as the AMCM mission migrates to the MH-60S Seahawk.

The CH-53 is the result of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Heavy Helicopter Experimental HH(X) program. In September 1962 Sikorsky won the contract to deliver two prototype aircraft. The YCH-53A (prototype version) made its first flight on October 14, 1964 Delivery of production CH-53As to the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) commenced in 1966. The CH-53A was powered by two General Electric T64-GE-6 turboshaft engines rated at 2,850 shp (each). A newer variant, the CH-53D, was developed during the Vietnam War and provided more powerful T64-GE-412 engines, improved transmission + a larger cabin to carry more troops. The CH-53D first flew on January 27, 1969. In 1974, the new CH-53E Super Stallion made its first flight. With the CH-53E, a third T64 engine was added for extra power - enabling the aircraft to carry more troops and a heavier payload. Other changes include a better transmission and a stretched fuselage. The initial production contract was awarded to Sikorsky in 1978. The first production CH-53E flew in December 1980 and the aircraft entered service in February 1981. The MH-53E variant was requested by the U.S. Navy to perform airborne mine countermeasures missions. It was named "Sea Dragon." The MH-53E first flew on December 23, 1981 and was declared operational in June 1986. In total, 46 Sea Dragons were delivered to the Navy. Compared to the CH-53E, it has larger sponsons (extensions on side of fuselage) to provide for greater fuel storage and mission endurance. To perform its mission, the MH-53E is equipped with towed minesweeping gear.

As of March 2014, the Marine Corps operated a fleet of 151 CH-53Es and 28 MH-53Es.

The future CH-53K King Stallion is currently being developed. The CH-53K will provide 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), ITT 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.

The first flight of the CH-53K is planned for the end of FY 2014 with Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in FY 2019. The plan, as of December 2011, is to purchase a total of 196 CH-53K helicopters from FY 2016 to FY 2027 (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.

In June 2013, Sikorsky received a $435 million U.S. Navy contract to build four CH-53K development aircraft. On May 1, 2014, Sikorsky announced it has begun full system testing of the CH-53K. During the three-year flight test program, each test aircraft will accumulate approximately 500 flight test hours. On May 5, 2014, Sikorsky officially unveiled the aircraft.



Armament/Weapons:

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



Price/Unit Cost:

The CH-53E and MH-53E are no longer in production. The DoD estimates the CH-53K will have a price tag of $75 million.



Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the CH-53K program is estimated at $22.83 billion + $6.59 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $29.42 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). This figure excludes military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the program in the amount of $45.4 million.



Mission/Role:

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 2014 DoD Program:

FY 2014 funds modifications to CH-53E and MH-53E aircraft. Major FY 2014 modifications include the Integrated Mechanical Diagnostics (IMD) incorporation, Nacelle Replacement, the H-53 Aircraft Sustainment Program, and H-53 Avionics Upgrades. Procurement funds in the amount of $60.6 million have been allocated to the H-53 family of aircraft.

FY 2014 also provides $462.3 million in RDT&E funds for the development of the CH-53K Super Stallion.



FY 2015 DoD Program:

FY 2015 funds modifications to CH-53E and MH-53E aircraft. Major FY 2014 modifications include the Integrated Mechanical Diagnostics (IMD) incorporation, Nacelle Replacement, the H-53 Aircraft Sustainment Program, and H-53 Avionics Upgrades. Procurement funds in the amount of $38.2 million have been allocated to the H-53 family of aircraft.

FY 2014 also provides $573.2 million in RDT&E funds for the development of the CH-53K Super Stallion.

For more information, click to view the FY 2015 DoD H-53 Series Modifications Budget.




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

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: October 28, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:



Sikorsky's CH-53/MH-53 Site: Sikorsky CH-53/MH-53

YouTube: Sikorsky CH-53/MH-53 | YouTube

Fact Sheet: Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
Data Sheet: Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion

Total CH-53K Program Cost:

 $29.42 billion  ($22.83B procurement + $6.59B RDT&E)

CH-53K Procurement Objective:

  200 aircraft  (196 production + 4 development)

CH-53/MH-53 Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the CH-53 and MH-53 in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of CH-53 and MH-53 Helicopters in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the CH-53 MH-53 Defense Program

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Modification of the CH-53 and MH-53 (NAVY)
Specifications

Aircraft Specifications: CH-53 and MH-53

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Aircraft Specifications | CH-53D Sea Stallion

Primary Function: Transport personnel, supplies, and equipment in support of amphibious and shore operations
Prime Contractor: Sikorsky Aircraft (United Technologies Corp.)
Power Plant: 2x General Electric T64-GE-413 turboshaft engines with 3,925 shp (each engine)
Rotor Diameter: 72 ft 3 in (21.7 m)
Length: Fuselage: 67 ft 6 in (20.3 m)
Height: 24 ft 11 in (7.2 m)
Width: Fuselage: 15 ft 6 in (4.7 m)
Weight (Empty): 23,628 lbs (10,718 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 42,000 lbs (19,051 kg)
Payload: 8,000 lbs (3,629 kg)
Capacity: 37 troops or 24 litter patients plus four attendants or 8,000 lbs (3,629 kg) of cargo
Speed: Cruise: 150 kts/173 mph (278 km/h); Max: 170 kts/196 mph (315 km/h)
Rate of Climb: 2,460 ft/min (12.49 m/s)
Service Ceiling: 12,450 ft (3,795 m)
Range: 578 nm/665 miles (1064 km)
Combat Radius: 87 nm/100 miles (161 km)
Armament/Weapons: 2x XM218 .50 BMG (12.7mm) machine gun
Crew: Three (two pilots and one aircrewman)
First Flight: YCH-53A: October 14, 1964; CH-53D: January 27, 1969; CH-53E: March 1, 1974
Deployed: Initial Operational Capability (IOC): November 1966 (CH-53A)
Inventory: CH-53D: 0 (retired); CH-53E: 151 (as of March 2014)

Aircraft Specifications | MH-53E Sea Dragon

Primary Function: Land and ship based transport of heavy equipment, supplies, and personnel;
Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM); Vertical On-Board Delivery (VOD); and special missions
Prime Contractor: Sikorsky Aircraft (United Technologies Corp.)
Power Plant: 3x General Electric T64-GE-419 turboshaft engines with 4,750 shp (each engine)
Rotor Diameter: 79 ft (24.1 m)
Length: Fuselage: 73 ft 4 in (22.0 m)
Height: 28 ft 4 in (8.6 m)
Weight (Empty): 36,745 lbs (16,667 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 69,750 lbs (31,693 kg)
Payload: 32,000 lbs (14,512 kg)
Capacity: 55 troops or 32,000 lbs (14,512 kg) cargo
Speed: Cruise: 150 kts/173 mph (278 km/h); Max: 170 kts/196 mph (315 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 10,000 ft (3,048 m)
Range: Max. 1,050 nm/1,208 miles (1,946 km)
Armament/Weapons: 2x XM218 .50 BMG (12.7mm) machine gun
Crew: Three (two pilots and one aircrewman)
First Flight: December 23, 1981
Deployed: Initial Operational Capability (IOC): June 1986
Inventory: 28 (as of March 2014)

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