In August 1962, the Marine Corps placed its initial order for the CH-53A Sea Stallion heavy lift helicopter, an evolution of the CH-3 Jolly Green Giant helicopter design. It went into service in late 1966 with the primary mission to move cargo and equipment and a secondary role of transferring troops ashore in an amphibious assault.
The Sea Stallion's cargo/troop compartment measures 30 feet long by 7.5 feet wide and 6.5 feet high with a rear door and loading ramp. To facilitate cargo handling, a remotely controlled winch is located at the forward end of the compartment. There is space for a jeep with trailer, a 105mm howitzer or a Hawk missile system. Alternatively, 38 combat-equipped troops or 24 MedEvac litter patients can be accommodated.
Model Variants of the Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion Helicopter
CH-53A/D Sea Stallion RH-53D Sea Stallion
The CH-53A went into service in 1966 to transport personnel, supplies and equipment in support of amphibious and shore operations, operating from carriers and other warships. The RH-53D is used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with a secondary mission of shipboard delivery.
The CH-53D is a more capable version of the CH-53A. CH-53Ds, with improved engines and increased power, are also used to recover downed aircraft, sweep mined areas and, if necessary, tow distressed ships.
CH-53E Super Stallion
The CH-53E Super Stallion is a larger version of the CH-53 Sea Stallion, and the largest helicopter in the U.S. military inventory. The CH-53E Super Stallion, first delivered in 1980, is a follow-on for its predecessor, the CH-53D. Improvements include the addition of a third engine to give the aircraft the ability to lift the majority of the Fleet Marine Force's equipment, a dual point cargo hook system, improved main rotor blades, and composite tail rotor blades. A dual digital automatic flight control system and engine anti-ice system give the aircraft an all-weather capability.
The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter seats 37 passengers in its normal configuration and has provisions to carry 55 passengers with centerline seats installed. With the dual point hook systems, it can carry external loads at increased airspeeds due to the stability achieved with the dual point system. The CH-53E is the only helicopter capable of lifting some of the new weapon systems in the Marine Corps, including the M-198 Howitzer and the variants of the new Light Armored Vehicle (LAV).
MH-53E Sea Dragon
The MH-53E, a reconfigured version of the CH-53E Super Stallion, is used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with secondary missions of vertical shipboard delivery and assault support. The prototype MH-53E made its first flight on 23 December 1981. The MH-53E can operate from carriers and other warships and is capable of towing a variety of mine hunting/sweeping countermeasures systems, including the Mk 105 magnetic minesweeping sled, the AQS-14A side-scan sonar, and the Mk 103 mechanical minesweeping system. When performing the assault support mission, the MH-53E can be fitted with the GAU-21 .50-cal. machine gun ramp-mounted weapon system.
USAF MH-53J Pave Low III USAF MH-53M Pave Low IV
The MH-53 Pave Low's mission is low-level, long-range, undetected penetration into denied areas, day or night, in adverse weather, for infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of Special Operations Forces. The MH-53J Pave Low III heavy-lift helicopter is the largest, most powerful and technologically advanced helicopter in the Air Force inventory. 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, enhancing the defensive capabilities of the Pave Low.
The CH-53K program was originally known as the CH-53X, and was designated the CH-53K in April 2006. CH-53K is the U.S. Marine Corps Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) helicopter intended to improve on the capabilities of the CH-53E Super Stallion as those units reach the end of their service life. As of 2010, Initial Operational Capability for the CH-53K is scheduled for 2016.
CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopter Specifications and Performance
99 ft. 5 in.
28 ft. 4 in.
73,500 lbs. max load, external
Two XM-218 .50 cal. mg
Three 4380 shp GE T64-GE-416 turboshaft
CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter lands on the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA-4) off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia during training exercise Unified Spirit '98, June-July 1998.
A wounded U.S. serviceman is transferred to a waiting CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter for medical evacuation during Operation Urgent Fury, Granada, 4 November 1983.
U.S. Navy RH-53D from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 (HM-14) in the non-AMCM configuration, identified by the horse head on the drop tank and BJ on the tail. Photo taken at Rota, Spain during Operation Intense Look, August 1984. Thanks to 'KWReichert' for proper ID.
U.S. Navy RH-53D from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 12 (HM-12) in the AMCM configuration, identified by lightning bolt on the drop tank and DH on the tail. Photo taken over Cape Hatteras, VA, 6 April 1982. Thanks to 'KWReichert' for proper ID.