The CH-53D Sea Stallion medium lift helicopter of Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Technologies Corp was ordered in the early 1960s to satisfy a Marine Corps requirement for a heavy lift helicopter, First flight at Oct 14, 1964, became operational in Nov 1966. The photo up here is the second YCH-53A. CH-53D is designed to transport personnel, supplies and equipment in support of amphibious and shore operations, equipped with two General Electric T64-GE-413 turboshaft engines, 3,925 shaft horsepower each.

It has since been replaced in the heavy lift mission by the CH-53E Super Stallion. The CH-53 is one of the few helicopters with an instrument landing system to enable landings in bad visibility to ILS-equipped air bases. All Marine Corps CH-53D helicopters are currently assigned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. The CH-53D, along with the CH-46E, is slated for replacement by the MV-22 Osprey.

  Related Aircraft:
Chinese J15, Chinese J20,
F-35 JSF, F/A-18E/F, F-22

A photo of CH-53E

A photo of CH-53G of Germany Defence Force

HH-53 Assault Transport Helicopter is the variant of CH-53, developed in 1968, widely used in rescue mission during Vietnam war. It turned to use 2 General Electric T64-GE-7 turboshaft, 3,435 shp each. HH-53`s crew are two pilots and an engineer on board and it can load 38 troops. For self-defence in misson, HH-53 is equipped with 7.62mm Minigun and .50 inch machine guns. Check the two photos of HH-53E below.

HH-53 gunner firing 7.62mm minigun and a pilot was now save to have a cigarette.

The MH-53E Sea Dragon is one of the variants of CH-53, used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with a secondary mission of shipboard delivery, deployed in 1983, replaced last of CH-53E in 1994. The MH-53E was derived from the CH-53E Super Stallion and is heavier and has a greater fuel capacity than its ancestor, as well as the engines turns into three General Electric T64-GE-416 turboshaft engines, 4,380 shaft horsepower each. The MH-53s can operate from carriers and other warships. Sea Dragon is capable of carrying up to 55 troops or a 16-ton payload 50 nautical miles or a 10-ton payload 500 nautical miles. The MH-53E is capable of towing a variety of mine-sweeping countermeasures systems, including the Mk 105 minesweeping sled, the ASQ-14 side-scan sonar, and the Mk 103 mechanical minesweeping system. Using helicopters in anti mine missions will reduce the risk of the troops .

The MH-53J Pave Low III is a modified version of the HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter used extensively during the Vietnam War for special operations and rescue of combat personnel. During past space programs, the HH-53 was on duty at the launch site as the primary astronaut recovery vehicle. Under the Air Force's Pave Low IIIE program, nine MH-53H's and 32 HH-53s were modified for night and adverse weather operations and designated MH-53Js just like those in the following photos.

The MH-53J is the most recent variant of CH-53s'. It's mission is to perform low-level, long-range, undetected penetration into denied areas, day or night, in adverse weather, for infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces. MH-53J heavy-lift helicopter is the largest and most powerful helicopter in the Air Force inventory, and the most technologically advanced helicopter in the world. Power Plant of MH-53J are Two General Electric T64-GE-100 engines, 4,330 shaft horsepower each. Its terrain-following, terrain-avoidance radar and forward-looking infrared sensor (the expand part on the head), along with a projected map display, enable the crew to follow terrain contours and avoid obstacles, making low-level penetration possible. Their modifications included forward-looking infrared, inertial global positioning system, Doppler navigation systems, a terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, an on-board computer and integrated avionics to enable precise navigation to and from target areas.

For self-defending the helicopter is equipped with armor plating, and a combination of three 7.62mm miniguns or .50 caliber machine guns. It can transport 38 troops or 14 litters and has an external cargo hook with a 20,000-pound (9,000-kilogram) capacity. The MH-53J has twin turbo-shaft engines; self-lubricating, all-metal main and tail rotors; and a large horizontal stabilizer on the tail rotor pylon's right side. Two officers (pilots) and four enlisted (two flight engineers, two aerial gunners) form the crew team.

MH-53J's were used in a variety of missions during Desert Storm. Pave Lows were among the first aircraft into Iraq when they led Army AH-64 Apaches to destroy Iraqi early warning radars and opened a hole in enemy air defenses for the opening air armada. In addition to infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special forces teams throughout Iraq and Kuwait, Pave Lows provided search and rescue coverage for coalition air forces in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and the Persian Gulf. An MH-53J made the first successful combat recovery of a downed pilot in Desert Storm. Following the war, MH-53J's were deployed to Northern Iraq to support Operation Provide Comfort, assisting displaced Kurds. Pave Lows were also used extensively during Operation Just Cause in Panama and south Europe.

The MH-53M Pave Low IV helicopters in Air Force Special Operations Squadrons are the same Super Jolly Green Giants first sent to Vietnam in 1967. The re-skinned, re-bladed and thoroughly refurbished aircraft have night/adverse weather capability, integrated aircraft survivability equipment, and digital connectivity.

The Air Force is acquiring 50 CV-22 Ospreys to replace its fleet of MH-53J Pave Low helicopters used to insert and extract special operations forces from hostile areas. The Osprey can cruise at 230 knots, and has a two times greater speed, range and payload than the MH-53J.

The MH-53 helicopter fleet is a Low Density/High Demand (LD/HD) asset used to deliver Special Forces into their objective areas. Current and projected worldwide tasks require increasing the fleet size. Air Force Special Operations Command has modernized 25 of the 38 Pave Low IIIEs to the MH-53M Pave Low IV configuration. As of January 2002 the Air Force inventory was 13 MH-53J and 25 MH-53M. HQ-USSOCOM and HQ AFSOC provided funding for conversion of two MH-53J model aircraft to the MH-53M. Warner Robins Air Logistics Center managed the conversions, to be completed by May 2002.

The MH-53M, weighing roughly 50,000 pounds, can carry up to 37 troops or hook load a charge of up to 20,000 pounds.

The MH-53M Pave Low IV is a J-model that has been modified with the Interactive Defensive Avionics System/Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal or IDAS/MATT. The IDAS/MATT is a modification to the MH-53J Pave Low III (PL-III) aircraft and is now designated as PL-IV. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the IDAS/MATT, enhances the defensive capabilities of the Pave Low by providing instant access to the total battlefield situation, through near real-time Electronic Order of Battle updates through digital connectivity and a digital map display. This modification integrated several new avionics systems into the aircraft, including a MATT receiver and a moving digital map. The modification also integrated existing electronic warfare systems to provide consolidated displays and controls. The upgrade also provides a new level of detection avoidance with near real-time threat broadcasts over-the-horizon, so crews can avoid and defeat threats, and replan en route if needed. IDAS/MATT provides instant access to the total battlefield situation. In a battlefield situation, concise and near real-time information is perhaps an aircrew's most reliable asset. With IDAS/MATT the probability of being detected by the enemy is greatly reduced.

Besides the map display, a navigational display provides digital course and bearing information with the push of a button. The heart of the system -- advanced software -- includes an integrated electronic warfare system. Infrared countermeasure controls, including missile warning, radar warning and jammer inputs as well as chaff and flare countermeasures, are on one display. Crews will receive instant cautions and advisories on threats with immediate recommendations, including when to dispense countermeasures. With IDAS/MATT, if the computer senses a threat, it will anticipate the threat with a direct action the crew can take. It will sense the problem and offer us a way to solve it instantaneously. The entire system was designed with the crew member as a priority in consolidating a variety of functions. Special attention was made to display visible instrument panel functions with easy console access while increasing the efficient flow of information.

A color, multifunctional, night-vision compatible digital map screen is the most visible hardware in the system. Located on the helicopter's instrument panel, the display gives an MH-53 crew a clearer picture of the battlefield. Crews have access to near real-time events, including the aircrew's flight route, man-made hazards such as power lines and even enemy electronic threats that are "over-the-horizon." Transmissions are beamed from a satellite to the helicopter's computer and then decoded. The data from the screen provides a perspective of potential threats and their lethal threat radius. It enhances situational awareness and threat avoidance by providing near real-time Electronic Order of Battle updates. Horizontal Situation Indicators, or HSI, replace two existing instruments. Automated navigation data reduces crew workload and increases situational awareness. Features include a digital map system, a MATT receiver, an integrated electronic warfare system, a liquid crystal multi-function display, independent cockpit displays and pilot-selectable display configuration.

The IDAS/MATT upgrade program incorporated the PL-IV aircraft system onto the PL-III simulation network. This upgrade makes possible the software maintenance of the operational flight programs of the MH-53M weapon system. The MH-53M with IDAS/MATT is the world's most software intensive and technologically sophisticated helicopter. The continued high Mission Capability Rate (five percent over Major Command goal) of this Force Activity Designator 1 weapon system is only possible due to the support rendered by the Special Operations Forces Extendible Integration Support Environment with the IDAS/MATT upgrade. The simulation network now supports both aircraft configurations with minimum hardware reconfiguration required. Hardware changes included updating the user interface function to reflect PL-IV cockpit changes and addition of an Embedded Computer Systems/Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) rack to host PL-IV unique LRUs. Software changes included the modification of 10 existing LRU simulations. In addition the flight, visual scene driver, and terrain/target simulations were modified. Software block cycle change cycle time has dramatically dropped with the EISE upgrade. During a recent deployment, an emergency change request was analyzed and a fix developed, coded and tested in about two weeks.

Reportedly, the MH-53M Pave Low IV, are still equipped with the vintage radar and FLIR, and lack infrared engine exhaust suppressors. This result in not only having the highest maintenance requirements in the AFSOC aircraft inventory, but as well, in vulnerability to shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

In the early spring of 2000, heavy, continuous rainfall in the southeast part of Africa caused severe devastation and loss of life. Particularly hard hit was the country of Mozambique. The WR-ALC/LU Directorate played a substantial supporting role in the relief efforts for that Southeast African nation. On 2 March 2000, the DoD authorized U.S. Forces in Europe to provide logistical and humanitarian relief support to the area through Operation Silent Promise. The DoD also authorized 16th Special Operations Wing (SOW) to deploy up to six MH-53M heavy lift helicopters for the relief effort. Only five were actually needed

Two Department of Defense contracting officers were recognized on 12 June 2003 for their innovative and cutting edge business practices. Charles Bright, U.S. Special Operations Command, McDill Air Force Base, Fla., and Nancy Gunderson, Pentagon Renovation (PENREN) Program, received their individual awards at a dinner ceremony as part of the 3rd Annual Federal Acquisition Conference held in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Bright was presented the Ida Ustad Award for Excellence in Acquisition by Steven Perry, Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA). Sponsored by GSA, the award honors the late Ida Mae Ustad, a former deputy associate administrator at GSA. Bright was recognized for his significant contributions directly supporting the global war on terrorism and for developing the contract to equip MH-53M helicopters with a new defensive system.

Maj. Leighton Anderson was a winner of the 2003 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship for contributions to airpower during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Jabara Award, named in honor of Colonel James Jabara, America’s first jet ace, is given annually to an Air Force Academy graduate whose actions directly associated with an aerospace vehicle set him/her apart from their contemporaries. Anderson is a MH-53M Pave Low III helicopter pilot who employed a ‘radar altitude hold technique’ to land during a mission for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. While returning to a narrow, high-altitude landing zone to extract a Special Forces team, several other helicopters were unable to land due to the area being obscured with dust. Anderson employed a ‘radar altitude hold technique’ which he had developed, and was able to land in dust-out conditions and retrieve the ground troops. Not only was Anderson able to land when others were not he knew the ground forces were in danger and loaded 12 additional special operations troops on board. His aircraft held more than triple the planned load and barely had enough fuel to take off. Anderson’s radar altitude hold technique is now taught to students during initial aircraft training.

Gunners on MH-53J

Transporting in a transporter.

Cut away view of CH-53E

3view of MH-53J

CH-53D General Characteristics

Fuselage: 67.5 feet (20.3 meters)
Rotors turning: 88 feet 3 inches (26.5 meters)
Height: 24 feet 11 inches (7.2 meters)
Weight: 21 tons (max gross) (18.9 metric tons)
Main Rotor Diameter: 72 feet 3 inches (21.7 meters)
Range: 578 nautical miles (665 statute miles, 1064 km); 886 nautical miles ferry range
Ceiling: 12,450 feet
Speed: 160 knots (184 miles, 294 km per hour)
Load: 37 troops or 24 litter patients plus four attendants or 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) cargo
Crew: Two pilots, one aircrewman
Armament: None

HH-53C General Characteristics

Rotor Diameter: 72 ft 3 in
Fuselage Length: 67 ft 2 in
Overall Length: 88 ft 3 in
Height: 24 ft 11 in
Empty Weight: 23,257 lb
Max Takeoff Weight: 37,466 lb
Max Speed: 196 mph
Ceiling: 20,400 ft
Range: 540 miles

MH-53E General Characteristics

Fuselage: 73 feet 4 inches (22.34 meters)
Overall: 99 feet (30.18 meters)
Height: 28 feet 4 inches (8.63 meters)
Weight: 21 tons (max gross) (18.9 metric tons)
Main Rotor Diameter: 72 feet 3 inches (21.7 meters)
Range: 1,120 nautical miles (1,289 statute miles, 1802 km)
Ceiling: 27,900 feet
Speed: 150 knots (172 miles per hour, 241 km per hour)
Crew: Two pilots, one to six aircrewman, depending on mission
Armament: None

MH-53J General Characteristics

Length: 92 feet (28 meters)
Height: 25 feet (7.6 meters)
Rotary Diameter: 72 feet (21.9 meters)
Speed: 165 mph (264 kph)
Ceiling: 16,000 feet (4,849 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 46,000 pounds (18,900 kilograms), emergency war plan allows for 50,000 pounds
Range: 630 statute miles (550 nautical miles); unlimited with air refueling
Unit cost: $25 million (1993 dollars)

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