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Sikorsky H-53 Sea Stallion

Heavy-lift transport helicopter

H-53 Sea Stallion heavy-lift transport helicopter

The Sikorsky H-53 Sea Stallion heavy-lift transport should remain in active service until 2025

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1968
Crew 2 - 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 20.47 m
Main rotor diameter 22.02 m
Height 7.6 m
Weight (empty) 10.6 t
Weight (maximum take off) 19 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x General Electric T64-GE-7A turboshafts
Engine power 2 x 3 936 shp
Maximum speed 315 km/h
Service ceiling 6.2 km
Range 868 km
Endurance 5 hours
Passengers 37 men
Maximum payload up to 9 t
Machine guns provision for 1 x 12.7 mm machine gun and 2 x 7.62 mm Miniguns


   The Sikorsky S-65 was designed to meet a USMC requirement for a heavy-lift troop transport helicopter. Eventually it has been adopted as the H-53 Sea Stallion. The twin-engined CH-53D has been in service since 1968 and currently equips four heavylift units. The CH-53D can carry 37 troops or 3.6-5.4 t of cargo.

   The three-engined CH-53E Super Stallion equips six USMC units and can transport 55 troops or 13 600 kg of cargo internally. Alternatively it can can carry a LAV-25 armored vehicle externally. The helicopter is armed with two 7.62 mm machine-guns for self-defense, and can be refueled in flight from a KC-130 aircraft. The CH-53E is expected to remain in service until 2025, the USMC planned a two-phase service-life extension programme that will comprise an airframe overhaul followed by an avionics upgrade with new cockpit systems compatible for night operations.

   The CH-53K King Stallion is the latest version of this heavy lift helicopter. It was revealed in 2014. The US Marine Corps ordered 200 of these helicopters. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.

   The US Navy operates a derivative of in the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) role. The three-engined MH-53E Sea Dragons tows a variety of MCM and side-scan sonars and equips two joint active/reserve HM squadrons, plus an HC squadron in the vertical onboard delivery role.

   The USAF has operated a variety of twin-engined MH-53 variants in the combat search and rescue and special operations roles. The current MH-53J Pave Low III variant is comprehensively equipped for low-level night/all-weather insertion of special forces troops in a hostile air defense environment.

   The major non-US Sikorsky S-65 operator is the German army (Heeresflieger) with around 96 license-built CH-53Gs. These received three major upgrades: new missile warning and self-protection systems; provision for two external fuel tanks allowing range to be increased to 1 800 km when carrying 36 armed soldiers or a 5 500-kg payload; and addition of an night vision goggles-compatible cockpit for night low-level flying capabilities. All CH-53Gs had been upgraded by Eurocopter Germany by early 2001.

   Other lesser operators are Israeli air force which has two squadrons of upgraded CH-53D Yasur-2000 transports and the Iranian navy which operates five former MCM-tasked RH-53Ds as logistical transports.



H-53 Sea Stallion helicopter

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