Home » Air » Corps Preps CH-53K for First Flight

Corps Preps CH-53K for First Flight

by Kris Osborn on August 1, 2013

CH-53KThe U.S. Marine Corps is preparing for the first flight of its next-generation CH-53K heavy lift helicopter, an aircraft acquisition program which is four years behind its original schedule.

The “K” model CH-53 is being engineered to provide more lift, speed, performance and protection compared to prior models.

The CH-53K, now being developed through a $435 million deal with Sikorsky from May of this year awarded by Naval Air Systems Command, is slated to take its first flight in the middle to late part of 2014. The contract calls for the construction of four test vehicles which are currently being developed at a Marine Corps facility in Palm Beach, Fla.

The more recent deal is an additional contract line item under a $3.5 billion System Development and Demonstration contract with Sikorsky in 2006, lining up development of the CH-53K.

The CH-53 K program is planning to enter Low-Rate-Initial-Production in 2016 and reach Initial Operating Capability by 2019, said Col. Robert Pridgen, heavy lift helicopters program manager, NAVAIR.

The program office says they are on track after an April 2011 Government Accountability Office report on the program raised concerns about cost growth and schedule delays with the CH-53K.

The report, titled, “CH-53K Helicopter Program has Addressed Early Difficulties and Adopted Strategies to Address Future Risks,” credits the program for implementing strategies to delay production and increase developmental funding but cites a history of problematic cost growth for the effort.

The report cites $6.8 billion in cost growth due to increasing quantities and efforts to begin development prior to determining how requirements can be achieved.  Furthermore, the report says that program challenges wound up delaying the sought after production timeline by as much as three years.  Since the time of this report, the IOC for the helicopter has slipped another year to 2019, resulting in an overall delay of up to four years.

At the same time, in order to meet operational demand for the CH-53 mission, the Marine Corps wound up bringing old airframes back from retirement in 2010 at a cost of $2.8 million each.  CH-53E airframes were taken from an Airzona desert “boneyard” and refurbished to meet wartime needs, since the production lines for the helos ended in the late 90s.

Meanwhile,  CH-53 K program officials told the GAO as recently as this past March that helicopter design was sound and that the program is on track to meet all the requirements.

The idea with the helicopter is to engineer a new aircraft with much greater performance and three-times the lift capacity compared to the existing CH-53 E or “Echo” model aircraft designed in the 80’s, said Pridgen.

“The requirement is to be able to lift 27,000 pounds, take it 110 nautical miles, stay 30 minutes on station and then be able to return to a ship under high hot conditions.  If I were to try to do that today, the best the “Echo” could do is 9,000 pounds,” Pridgen said.

Higher temperatures and higher altitudes create a circumstance wherein the decreased air-pressure makes it more difficult for helicopters to fly and carry payloads.

Pridgen explained that the requirement for the “K” model CH-53 emerged out of a Marine Corps study which looked at the combat aviation elements of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF.

“We recognized that the mission had evolved and that the national security strategy had said that the mission had changed such that more lift was required. And the requirement for heavy lift needed to be affordable in terms of sustaining it. Out of that requirement the ”K” was born; The K requirement not only make it able to lift a lot more and take it a long way —  but also to make this thing a lot easier to maintain,” he said.

Engineers with the “K” program are using a handful of new technologies to achieve greater lift, speed and performance with the helicopter, including the integration of a new, more powerful GE 38 turboshaft engine for the aircraft, developers explained.

“Fuel consumption of the engine is 25-percent improved. On a pure technology level it is about a 25-percent improvement in fuel efficiency,” said Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K program vice president.

The helicopter is also being built with lighter-weight composite materials for the airframe and the rotorblades, materials able to equal or exceed the performance of traditional metals at a much lighter weight, said Torok.

“Technology allowed us to design a largely all-composite skinned airframe. There are some primary frames titanium and aluminum. Beam structure and all the skins are all composite. Fourth generation rotorblades are a combination of new airfoils, taper and a modification of the tip deflection of the blade.  It is an integrated cuff and the tip geometries are modified to get additional performance,” Torok said.

The helicopter will also be configured with Directional Infrared Countermeasures, or DIRCM, a high-tech laser-jammer designed to throw incoming missiles off course.

Also, the CH-53 K will be using what Torok referred to as a split-torque transmission design that transfers high-power, high-speed engine output to lower-speed, high-torque rotor drive in a weight efficient manner.

The K model will be a “fly by wire” capable helicopter and also use the latest in what’s called conditioned-based maintenance, a method wherein diagnostic sensors are put in place to monitor systems on the aircraft in order to better predict and avert points of mechanical failure, Pridgen explained.

“There’s an opportunity to learn about the aircraft and be much more predictive,” he said.

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{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ August 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

"The report cites $6.8 billion in cost growth due to increasing quantities and efforts to begin development prior to determining how requirements can be achieved"

Increasing quantities=good

"Efforts to begin development prior to determining how requirements can be achieved"=not so good?

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hibeam August 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm

an aircraft acquisition program which is four years behind its original schedule, Meanwhile somewhere in China highly educated highly motivated engineers without neck tattoos are graduating from college.

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CharleyA August 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm

The Marines slowed the program to bolster the MV-22 program.

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Derek August 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm

The original design was created in the 60's…don't ya think we ca do better then simply bumping up the specs after half a century…

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hibeam August 1, 2013 at 11:09 pm

We have no engineers. We have damn fools with neck tattoos. You do the math.

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James August 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Do you honestly believe that having a (neck) tattoo has any impact on intelligence, or in your specific case, engineering? That's a bit closed minded.
I consider myself to be somewhat of an intellectual, and at the very least overly professional. I have a half sleeve on each arm and my shoulders and upper back are tattooed. I wasn't aware that diminished my intelligence. I must have been too busy hanging out with the nobodies with neck tats.

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hibeam August 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Nothing says "hire me" like a neck tattoo. They look especially cool when your 50+ and sleeping under an overpass.

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David August 3, 2013 at 1:35 am

As much as I dislike neck tattoos, At least they're not incontrovertible evidence of grammatical incompetence.

JCross August 2, 2013 at 12:22 am

It's not the old helo. For one, it's based off the super stallion, which was in it's own right a very heavy redesign in the mid-70s. For two, the amount of redesigned systems would more than warrant a new designation and it being called a new helicopter, but it is labeled as a newer model for largely administrative reasons. New blades, new engines, new cockpit, new fuselage, almost entirely redone.

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Lance August 2, 2013 at 12:08 am

Glad to see a new Super Stallion doing well hope she flies well.

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Derek August 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm

It's way over budget and years behind schedule…what article did you read?

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Bob August 2, 2013 at 12:09 am

New airframe, same name

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helodriver August 2, 2013 at 1:30 am

The K is slightly larger than the V-22 (empty weight), but will carry five times more payload, and have greater range. Although the V-22 will have 30% more cruise speed, all Marines favor ending the V-22 to buy more 53Ks (except their covert sales rep, General Amos, whose career was guided by Bell).

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ziv August 2, 2013 at 8:29 am

I was with you up until the "all", but I guess the nom de plume should have tipped me off in advance. The 53K is going to be some serious heavy metal, but I see a role for the V22, as well.

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CharleyA August 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Yea, the "all" was a bit of an overstep, but -53's rule!

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blight_ August 2, 2013 at 9:45 am

Depends on what you want. If you want payload uber alles, the Army would replace every single helicopter in its fleet with Chinooks and end it at that.

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majr0d August 3, 2013 at 2:41 am

Ref range and inappropriate comparisons.

CH53K 454nmi http://www.sikorsky.com/Products/Product+Details/

Osprey over 800nmi http://www.bellhelicopter.com/MungoBlobs/919/124/EN_V-22_GuideBook.pdf
p 59

Comparing the two is silly. It's like comparing a pickup truck to a semitrailer, different missions. A better comparison would be against the Chinook. Which is over 70% cheaper, has an almost identical speed, you can fit two in a CH53K footprint (with a 25% increase in payload at 46% of the cost).

The ONLY thing a Sea Stallion can do that two Chinooks can't is lift a LAV and I don't think the LAV is the Marines magic sauce.

The Marines would have saved a chunk of cash perfecting folding rotors for the Chinook (they exist) and procuring them instead. So much for frugality.

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James August 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

Except that a CH-53E can carry a Chinook , it hauled one out of Afghanistan and a Blackhawk out of Pakistan. The Chinook can only lift 26k pounds and would need a redesign to meet the corrosion resistance for full time sea duty. The Army already has to wash them frequently to serve near the coast. The Chinook costs $35M before the needed upgrades.

The only way you can put two CH-47's in a CH-53 footprint is to crush them into scrap metal first.

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majr0d August 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Uh the other half of that story is the Chinook had the transmission and engines stripped out of it.

The Chinook can actually land in sea water and just like the CH53 needs to be hosed off. There could be more anti corrosion work done but it's not a significant issue. It's been done with the Huey, Cobra, and Blackhawk without major price increases. BTW, several other countries do it. I don't think the Aussies or Brits are smarter than our helo drivers/maintainers but maybe I'm wrong.

Do your research on the dimensions.CH47 – 12.5', CH53 – 27' (tail folded and sponsons)

When you need an excuse, any will do.

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53ddriver August 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Majr0D, The other half is that the Chinook could not lift even that….Believe me they tried, both the Brits 47's at Bastion and in USA in Kandahar were asked if they could lift the night stalker 47 that had a hard landing in 2010.( the pilots were flying too low, stipped the wheels and bent the frame). They discovered that the 47 could no well in hell lift its own empty airframe. Then comes the 53E, who stood up to the plate and delievered. That same 53E squadron also recovered a crashed UK Merlin which again the 47 could not lift.
Don't get me wrong, I love the 47, but it cannot lift what the Super Stallion can lift. I should know I was with MAG-16(operations) and am a former 53D driver. The 53 is also faster, not having to worry about the cruise guide limitations from the second rotor. Many of us could 180kts indicated with relative ease….

Papi1960R August 8, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Washing Aircraft that are on or near the ocean? What a unique idea. I'm sure a month into their seven month cruise on HMS Ocean the 3 Chinook crews and maintainers said "this is too hard, lets go home".
Chinooks, Apaches and many other non-Marine Corps aircraft have been operated very successfully on or near the ocean. From their SAW replacement, to unique aircraft the Marines have to have their special toys. Without them they are just soldiers with really cool 8 point covers, and that would make them very expendable.

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oblatt1 August 2, 2013 at 3:17 am

The marines are struggling to fund this because they threw away so much money on the Osprey. A huge reduction in capability.

Not least to suffer is the medivac mission. The last thing many marines will hear will be "hang in there, the osprey is coming, most of them are down for maintenance the few are busy and we don't have enough…just hang in there" as they bleed out.

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blight_ August 2, 2013 at 9:46 am

"The marines are struggling to fund this because they threw away so much money on the Osprey"

Agreed. JSF-B, Osprey and EFV weren't cheap. The money came from somewhere.

That said, a few commentors here say that Osprey readiness is higher than it used to be…

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USS ENTERPRISE August 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm

The Osprey and Ch-53K should be used together; they both are excellent lift helicopters. But, if you want to move troops quickly, Osprey all the way. Ch-53 seems more, versatile, though. Best of both worlds=using both….

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oblatt1 August 6, 2013 at 6:12 am

marines cant afford it they blew all thier money on the Osprey. Now marines will die because of it.

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tiger August 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Helicopters have their limits by design. None can break 300 knots. Unpressurized, they stay under 20,000 Ft. The range is still half of a tilt rotor. Sorry, but this seem more like busy work for Sikorsky than any great improvement.

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Riceball August 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm

The problem with that statement is that 53s aren't typically used in the medevac role, I'm pretty sure that the 46 is the preferred helo for the medevac role within the Corps and given that the 46 is being replaced by the Osprey more 56s won't make a difference as far as medevacs are concerned.

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majr0d August 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

You meant 53's but I got your meaning. Good point.

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oblatt1 August 6, 2013 at 6:21 am

Sure if the v-22 was configured for medevac LOL – but it isnt and wont be because it is a terrible medevac vehicle.

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James August 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

The Marines don't use specific aircraft for medevac like the Army.

I was a skeptic of the MV-22 for years before I understood its role in over the horizon assault. Besides that role consider the current situation in the ME. Fast Marines will need to travel hundreds of miles of needed to secure an embassy. The MV-22 cuts that time significantly. As much as we all hated to see the Phrog go, it was the right move.

brownie August 2, 2013 at 7:23 am

So much better value than the V-22. Great job.

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twright2 August 2, 2013 at 8:44 am

I have always wondered why we didn't just upgrade the '53'Es back in the day instead of investing in the Osprey. I remember when Gen Gray was touting the Osprey I always wondered why not just make a good thing even better?

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tiger August 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Because all the upgrades in the world will never match the V-22's abilities.

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John August 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm

The CH-53E is too big to take the place of the CH-46 as the MV-22B is doing.. Then again, so is the Osprey.

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bje August 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

Congress.

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Guest August 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Help me understand, I thought I was reading a blog on advances in DoD tech but the comments seem to only degrade the new tech in favor of the old. "Back in my day we flew the Sopwith Camel and I feel that the Camel ZX model is more effective than your crazy jet fighters." Could someone please direct me to a blog where the readers are interested in new tech?!

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USS ENTERPRISE August 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Wikileaks.

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CharleyA August 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Tiltrotors are not really new tech – predecessors existed back in the 1940's and earlier. Lots of money and blood has been spent to make the concept workable. The debate continues if the investments were worth its unique capabilities. WIll it be a game changing enabler to a broader range of missions, or simply another platform to perform missions that could be otherwise be accomplished by cheaper helos.

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Rob August 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

Snoopy is the last known Sopwith Camel pilot… highly decorated too, I believe…

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James August 7, 2013 at 8:51 am

Right. We all love the helo's we crewed. The role of the Corps and the world situation has changed. The Corps is ever evolving.

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Andy August 3, 2013 at 1:52 am

CH-53K Projected : 170 knots, 110 nmi w/o refueling, 15,000 feet
Osprey: 255 knots, 390 nmi, 29,000 feet

Can we stop comparing 2 things that are drastically f***ing different? I get it, the CH-53 carries a larger payload, it also does it at 3/5 the speed, half the range and half the altitude. They don't do the same things, accept that Osprey is here and embrace the god damn thing.

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tiger August 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Preach on brother! The Flat Earth crowd need to hear it.

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Roger August 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

The V-22 has flown up to 29,000 in tests, but its not heated nor pressurized, so crews are limited to less than an hour up there, and with no passengers.

Same deception with range. Always quoted when flying at 25,000ft with no payload. Bring it down to flying at 8000 feet (like it does in Afghanistan) the range falls a lot. And the max range is a joke. That's when it loads three internal fuel tanks. Helicopters can do that too, but don't use it when quoting range. The CH-53K and even the E has more range than the V-22. Read OPEVAL results and not Bell sales pamphlets. And the K will be 11-inches wider than the E so it can carry an Hummer inside, yet a V-22 can't even fit in an old jeep. And the V-22 is bigger than the CH-53E in empty weight! Its a heavyweight class lifter with poor medium lift performance, about the same as the H-60L, which is one-third its size.

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John August 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Thank you so much for those numbers… The MV-22B only looks great on paper with all the inflated numbers. If anyone cared to pay attention to the none pressurized cabin, they would no that at 25,000 ft it won't be carrying those 24 Marines… Oh wait.. is it 24, or closer to 18?

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majr0d August 4, 2013 at 5:07 pm

It's incredible what lengths the Osprey naysayers will go. The opeval II referenced is from 2005, EIGHT years ago! The V22 does have longer operational range than the CH53E. It's self deploy range is what is cited with extra fuel tanks but it's operational capability is greater than CH53E's. The naysayers won't share the details because it undermines their efforts in presenting a lopsided case.

A consistent example is comparing the V22's lift capability against the CH53 but the V22 is supposed to replace the CH46! Heck, let's compare C130's then against the CH53!

Finally the naysayers whine about altitude but ignore missions like the 800 mile CSAR mission the Osprey did in Afghanistan that the CH53 couldn't. http://defensetech.org/2011/09/23/the-cv-22s-800-

The Osprey is far from perfect. It's not a CH53 nor was it ever meant to be but the CH53 can't do what he Osprey does in terms of speed and range when it comes to putting troops on the ground or light utility work (NOT HEAVY LIFT which isn't its mission) . One has to start wondering why the constant whining.

IF CH53 advocates really cared about money why aren't they promoting the CH47 for the Marines? You can get two for almost half the cost and increase cumulative payload 25% in the same footprint of a CH53 (just perfect folding blades which already exist)! Hmmmmmm….

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53DDriver August 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Majr0D. I wondered why we don't have the 47 either. This coming from a former 53D driver….Politics and the same insider club that gave us the V-22 I guess. Now don't get me wrong, the V-22 has a role, but the USMC could have gotten a lot more bang for its buck buying H-60's to replace the 46, but sadly we didn't.

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53DDriver August 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm

As somone who also was with the infantry as a FAC in OEF I can say there was no advantage that the V-22 had over any other assault support for the operations we conducted. In fact, since I submitted many ASR's I never wanted V-22's because they were slower getting into the zone(1NM out in helicopter mode), louder, and we lost a lot of gear on exfil because they accelerated so fast that sometimes stuff fell out(in one case they lost a crew chief and in mine a million dollar optics set). The airspace over there didn't use any of the v-22's advantages (it's speed or ceilings) so it was pretty much a helo that just went a few minutes faster from pickup to infil. While I am fond of the V-22 the USMC should have not bought them in the vast numbers they did as it's advantages are more suited to niche roles, CSAR, MEDEVAC, SPEC-OP type roles. Not assualt support with our current doctrine.

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majr0d August 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

You make good points about the air assault mission. In the Corps' defense they did promote an over the horizon vision at one point (remember the EFV). In hindsight that vision was seriously lacking. An enemy that has enough anti ship capability to push the Navy beyond the horizon likely has tech to destroy heliborne or amphibious forces.

That said I believe the Osprey is new tech just like the H13 was long ago. It may very well be the future or maybe counter rotating rotors with a pusher prop (e.g. Sikorsky's Raider) will push the envelope.

Ajax August 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm

I understand that the primary advantage of the v22 is cruise speed. It's vtol capabilities is nothing more than a much touted lethal " white elephant".

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DGR August 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Ya you nailed it, nobody on the ground wants to ride into and from battle in a fast and high flying bird, they want something as slow and low as they can get.

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jeff August 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm

And they have not even started maintenance training

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John August 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

One question: why is that almost ever major weapons system that the American military orders is always two plus year over delivery date? is it because the companies in American are so bad in making something that delivery it on time on budget or under budget. it always two plus years late an billion of dollars over coast. is out country that stupid?

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USS ENTERPRISE August 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm

The people aren't.

The folks in the suits? Well…..

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HiPowerGuy August 11, 2013 at 10:34 am

Well, I hate to say, but that seems to be the norm now a days, to make sure every9one gets PAID what they want!! Take a quick peek at the 3 or more cancelled programs on upgrading the m16/m4 rifle, when an improved upper with thicker barrel, better trigger/fcg and buffer tube/buffer seems to be all that is needed for another 20+ yrs of service. No one has be able to take GREAT leaps in technology over our current rifle system, especially with this small upgrades. But there have been at least 3 cancelled programs worth, oh, I don't know, but, hundreds of millins of dollars, and back to square one. It is the way BIG companies milk the taxpayer, and the abundant layers of gov't hacks that waste all this money. Well, IMHO at least.

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fireater41 August 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Keep the V-22, Provide Door Gunners when in helo-mode and use it for supply runs only.

Upgrade the 53's and keep the most powerful helo in the free world funded to keep the Marine Corps in the mix.

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d. kellogg August 5, 2013 at 7:27 am

More than anything here, I'm interested in the GE38 turboshafts that are intended to power the-53K.
In addition to its T407 turboprop cousin, this engine is in a class (6000-7500shp) that opens up new windows of opportunity for US military aircraft.
The C-130 family has been highly successful thru its career on 4000-5000shp turboprops, as well as the Navy's E-2/C-2 fleet.

With this new powerplant and its future growth potential (8000shp or beyond?) it opens up a whole new level of military transport aircraft for the US (before someone starts shouting "just buy the A400M"), potential replacements that we'll need down the road to replace the USN's aging C-2 fleet as well as the venerable C-130.
I personally believe LM was short-sighted in equipping ther J-Herc with ~only~ a 5000shp class turboprop, instead of going commonality with the Ospreys and their 6000shp class engines…

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blight_ August 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I'd laugh if the military decided to go with more commonality/interchangeability with their engines, but nooo…

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OD375 August 7, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I have no idea whatsoever why a Marine or anybody else would prefer a V-22. Spare the trouble of countering my comment because I will never forgive the Corps for its role in killing all the young Marines who died as crew members in these aircraft and the many brave Marines who died as passengers in these death traps. The CH-53K is a superior aircraft in ALL respects but its development and production is being miss-managed by a very corrupt system. To the naysayers, bring it the _ _ _ _ on.

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BRASS August 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

The V-22 project was well underway by 1985 and as is typical of new concepts they are proven after a decade or two of service. Unfortunately due to politics, new weapons acquisitions programs often are really 20 to 30 years old by the time they are described as new and promising or new and troubled by the reporting press and those not familiar. Missions change and the long lead times required to bring a new system to life make a cost efficient design and timely delivery almost impossible. If congress would stop force feeding things we don't need, stopping and starting things we do with their biannual, never ending funding games and allow programs to follow a path more like what civilian programs do we would be much better off. – - – Few big programs whether civilian or military are free from problems, i.e., the Boeing Dreamliner, and our most successful go through years of problems.

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HiPowerGuy August 11, 2013 at 10:42 am

Ok, I agree with you. BUT, here is a question. Can we EVER get back to the time when all these layers of crap, and politics cease to allow us to be able to design, plan, build and field weapons systems in a ….reasonable time frame, and on -below budget, every again? I would think that there is a way, but, I just do not believe that anyone can step up to make it happen, as it would be career suicide. And too many Admirals And Generals count on their retirement plans to step on any toes.
Any suggestions??

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I find it comical reading the various posts from people who really have no idea what they are talking about. Here are some real facts people.
First of all, the 53 K is like the 53 E in only two ways; in the "look" and the nomenclature. Every other aspect is new and redesigned. It is NOT an "upgraded" E. It is a 100% new aircraft with all new design and technology that just happened to “look” like the 53E and to get named a “53”.

Prt 1.

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Many of you have tossed around "comparisons" of various aircraft vs. the 53K. Much of your data is wrong or misleading. You see, the spec rating for most aircraft are for max payload in optimum conditions. This does not accurately reflect real world capabilities. It does not even take into consideration the w eight of fuel, gear and crew. The 53 K rating of “27,000 lbs.” of CARGO payload that most of you have quoted is just that, Cargo, and cargo at range and at alt/temp. This was one of the design requirements for Sikorsky when developing this aircraft. The CH53K “Will conduct an unrefueled mission of 110 nm radius with a 27,000 lbs. (12,247 kg) external payload (harder than internal) during stringent performance parameters on a “high-hot” Navy day (a pressure altitude of 3,000 feet and 91.5˚ F/915 meters/33˚ C)”.

Prt 2.

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majr0d August 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Please point out the specific "wrong" data.

"the spec rating for most aircraft are for max payload in optimum conditions." TRUE! Including the CH53K which has yet to DEMONSTRATE any of these capabilities since the first one hasn't flown yet.

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Also remember that it CAN lift much more. “The CH-53K helicopter is capable of carrying an external load of 36,000 lbs. (16,363 kg).” The 53K has a max gross weight of 88,000 lbs. (up from an original of 84,000) and an empty weight of about 35,000Lbs. That leaves 53,000Lbs to “play” with. The 53K can and will carry that 36,000Lbs max hook load and still have 17,000 lbs. left for fuel, crew, and other gear before hitting 88,000Lbs.. Let’s not forget that this is EXTERNAL load rating that is limited by the hook and airframe strength at those lifting points. This aircraft can still lift its max gross of 88,000Lbs. That is 52,000 Lbs. of internal cargo and fuel. I don’t care who you are or what fan boy “camp” you’re in, that’s a lot of weight.

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majr0d August 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

You are "playing" with words. The max payload is 35k lbs.

The max gross weight is 74k lbs according to Sikorsky (check attributes tab) http://www.sikorsky.com/vgn-ext-templating-SIK/v/

The first CH53K hasn't flown yet and MTOW requires a bunch of things first being a runway.

Feel free to be a fan but stop playing with the numbers.

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

The closest REAL “competitor” to the H53K in the US arsenal is the CH-47D (ICH). This Army beast by Bell is a great aircraft and is very capable, but as some have tried to speculate, it is not as powerful as the new 53K is, not even close. It has a max single point external load of 26,000 Lbs. However, a 26,000 Lbs. load under a CH-47d would put it about 600 lbs. under its max gross weight of 50,000Lbs, Just enough for three crew and a bologna sandwich, so 47s don’t usually lift even close to 26,000Lbs.

Prt 4.

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majr0d August 9, 2013 at 9:02 pm

You do realize there are three hooks on a CH47 and the latest version that is fielded is the F model?

Loving how you ignore the cost factor and that you can fit TWO CH47s in the space of a CH53 increase cumulative payload 25% and save half the cost…

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

A better direct 53K vs. 47D comparison is this; “The Improved Cargo Helicopter (ICH) is a remanufactured version of the CH-47D Chinook cargo helicopter with the new T55-GA-714A engines. The ICH program is intended to restore CH-47D airframes to their original condition and extend the aircraft's life expectancy another 20 years (total life of 60 years) until the 2025-2030 timeframe. The program will remanufacture CH-47 aircraft, reduce the aircraft's vibration, thereby reducing Operations and Support costs, and allow the aircraft to operate on the digitized battlefield by incorporating a 1553 data bus. The ICH will also acquire the capability to carry 16,000 pounds of external/internal cargo for a 50 NM combat radius at 4000 feet pressure altitude and 95 degrees Fahrenheit”.

Prt 5.

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majr0d August 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Why are you comparing the old 47D that is fully fielded and not the F model against the K which hasn't even FLOWN yet? What about the impact of performance at 25% higher altitude of Army high/hot standards (which have recently gone to 6k', twice the Navy standard) and the higher temperature? It's not just straight line either.

You may also want to check out the CH47F block 2 goals of doubling the payload of the CH47 under high hot conditions again at FOUR TIMES less cost for 2020. http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/arti

A lot of CH53 proponents know the CH53. Problem is they don't know the CH47 or want to make across the board comparisons as they ding folks they feel aren't appropriately awed by the CH53K (that hasn't flown yet).

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

As you can see, although the CH-47D (ICH) is a very capable aircraft and it is even comparable to the CH-53E, it is not even close to the CH-53K. It is rated to carry 11,000 Lbs. less and only half the distance the 53K will. (27,000 LBS Vs. 16,000 LBS & 50 NM Vs. 110 NM) Both at very similar “High Hot” flight regimes. Oh and just to rub it in a bit more, think about this, In pure lifting ability alone the 53K can carry an entire 47D at Max Gross Weight plus 2,000 Lbs. (just sayin’).

Prt 6.

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majr0d August 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

AT FOUR times the price you get 30% more lift capacity. You can buy TWO CH47F's, increase your cumulative payload 25% and save 46%.

I guess frugal only counts when you want it to…

BTW, show the "similar" high/hot regimes. Bet they aren't so similar…

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Although I am not a "fan" of the v-22, I know that it has a roll in the fight. Comparing a V-22 to a 53 (E or K) is like comparing an up-armored HMMWV to an M1A1. Some might say similar, but two very different rolls on the battlefield and two very distinct sets of capabilities. There are things the MV-22 can do that the 53 can't and vice a versa. The Marine Corps wanted that way. Two distinct Aircraft, for two separate and distance rolls.

Prt 7.

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Sh*tterCrew August 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Two of the biggest things that I am personally happy about that the 53K will do that NO other Hilo out there can do both of is take HMMWVs internally (up-armored minus the turret), and accept 463L Air Force pallets internally (the CH-47 takes 463L pallets as well but not HMMWVs and once again, not nearly the weight).

Prt 8.

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EJHarris August 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm

@Sh*tterCrew – Well stated facts and positions – agree on all counts and can only hope the 53K has a good and long life in the Corps.

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Bob Boise August 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

By the way, the Chinook flies at 175 nts….much faster than a 53…the CH47 is superior in every aspect, it can outlift, outmanoeuver , and stay in the air much longer. There is no comparison. Maybe you are thinking of the CH46…the baby Chinook?

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bob Boise August 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

In fact, the problem with the Chinook is, it has to throttle back when it is escorted by Apaches; they cannot keep up. It also has the highest ceiling…load capacity at high elevations. That is why it is the only chopper to use in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan.

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bob Boise August 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

You might look at a few Chinook lifts: http://www.chinook-helicopter.com/sling_loads/85-… Plus you may remember that a Chinook lifted a crashed Blackhawk off the 9500' slops of Mt Hood a few years back.

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majr0d August 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm

If they move that far they are going to need fixed wing support. Let's compare the C130 against the CH53 if we are going to speculate about supporting forces over 300 miles deep.

It takes an absurd argument to compare CH53s against V22s in the category of lift capability. Let's compare pickups against semitrailers while we're at it. Why are CH53 proponents so threatened by the Osprey? They have different missions.

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Riceball August 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Because too many people here have no concept of the difference between medium lift vs. heavy lift. A lot of the same arguments about lift capability were used here in every other article about the Osprey and how the Corps should abandon the Osprey in favor of more 53s because the 53 could lift more.

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majr0d August 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I'd tend to agree with you if the comments were coming from people without the name of the helicopter in their handle. We'd hope pilots knew the difference but maybe I overestimate pilot's knowledge?

The more likely explanation would be blind partisanship or insecurity.

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blight_ August 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Or perhaps they feel like they are SME's; at least moreso than internet people who use wikipedia and computer games for their "expertise"? And because they have real world interaction with the items in question, tunnel vision sets in…

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majr0d August 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

"The Marines don't use specific aircraft for medevac like the Army."

True, they often have Army helicopters provide Medevac support just like relying on the Navy to provide corpsman.

The MV22 does provide increased speed.

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blight_ August 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

http://www.captainsjournal.com/2012/02/19/marine-
—————————————————
Now comes Matthew Burden at Blackfive to respond to Michael (and I guess, me too). I won’t rehearse what he says about the issue, and if he feels like it, Michael Yon can respond to Matt’s problems with the issue. But of me, Matt says the following.

The Army is the only Service that is dedicated to this essential mission. In fact, other uninformed bloggers claim that the Marines don’t do Medevac. That part is correct. However, to assume that’s because “The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way” is incorrect. That is because the Army provides that service for the Marines, Navy, and Air Force. Just like the Marines don’t do CSAR – because the USAF has the lead on that. Not because they don’t do business that way (bold his).

—————————————————————————-

Post goes on to say that the Marines semantically don't have helicopters allocated to the mission wearing red crosses and such, but use whatever helicopter is available to evacuate the wounded. However, I suspect if a patient is critical, a specially-organized, on-call Army medevac helicopter gets the mission.

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majr0d August 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

When it comes to getting wounded out who ever can do it gets the mission. I've seen mechanic M88's armored recovery vehicles used to transport wounded.

There is an important difference between Medevac and Casevac that many don't even pay attention to. My main point is One Team, One Fight. We do a lot of stupid things and spend a lot of crazy money over branch pride.

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majr0d August 8, 2013 at 8:22 pm

No problem but seriously, how many times is that kind of load lifted? 53 is a great bird. Just don't see the frugality of paying over four times as much for a 30% increase in lift capability. Even if I bought the 5% faster speed argument which isn't documented anywhere (I'm sure we could find a Chinook pilot who'll claim in excess of 170 knts also) it isn't anything but bragging rights (which is frankly part of the problem).

There was a time the Army had the CH54. They built less than a 100 for an Army exponentially larger than the Corps to do heavy lift. The Corps which is half the size of the active Army is buying 225 CH53Ks.

That same money would pay for almost 900 CH47s! Two 47s provide a 25% increase in payload at less than half the cost and they fit in the same space as a stowed CH53.

I'm not saying get rid of the 53. Heck the Army should have a couple for that heavy lift capability for when one has to logistically recover a downed helo or lift an armored vehicle (which isn't that common, vehicles need fuel and support which is often beyond an expeditionary force's let alone an air assault's capability BTDT).

What I am saying is a fleet of hundreds is overkill and dollars could go a lot farther with some less myopic branch/platform specific vision.

BTW, I don't think the Brits have completely transitioned to the CH47D variant nor are the "high-hot" conditions known. Minor issue but relevant.

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