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History Behind the H-53

May 2, 2014
The roll out of a new, game-changing heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K is upon us.

Sikorsky Aircraft designed the 53K helicopter to meet the U.S. Marine Corps’s requirement to move troops and their supplies from amphibious shipping to inland objectives under high altitude and hot atmospheric conditions (defined as 103°F at sea level to 92.5°F at 3,000 feet.) The aircraft’s 88,000-pound maximum gross weight is designed to carry 27,000 pounds (13.5 tons) of external load over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles. That’s almost four times the external carrying capacity of the CH-53E SUPER STALLION™ aircraft that we delivered in the 1980s. Remarkably, the CH-53K aircraft will maintain virtually the same footprint as its predecessor, the CH-53E helicopter.

How’d we do it?
As you might expect there’s an upgraded engine system. Compared to the CH-53E helicopter’s three T64 turbo shaft engines, the CH-53K aircraft’s three 7,500-shaft-horsepower class GE38-1B engines provide 57 percent more power, 18 percent lower fuel consumption and 63 percent fewer parts. Other technology enablers for increased lift include a split torque transmission design that more efficiently distributes engine power to the main rotors; fourth-generation composite rotor blades; and a composite airframe structure for reduced weight. We take great pride in the indispensable aircraft we provide our troops and allies as they go about their missions. Until now, the CH-53E was the largest, most powerful marinized helicopter in the world. Sikorsky’s CH-53K platform has now taken the number one spot.

Take a look back at the CH-53 Program and its Primary Missions:
CH-53 helicopters serve the Marine Corps primary mission to transport equipment and troops from ship to shore. The aircraft has served, and continues to serve several U.S. Government and international military customers, and their unique missions.


The CH-53 pioneered the use of Titanium in a helicopter design.

Dating back to 1968, the CH-53A/D, a two engine model known as the Sea Stallion, serviced the U.S. Maine Corps for purposes of utility transport.


U.S. Marine Corps CH-53A heavy lift helicopter.


U.S. Air Force HH-53B Combat SAR helicopter.


U.S. Air Force HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant.

The three engine CH-53E model took its first flight on March 1, 1974. This Super Stallion went on to join the U.S. Marine Corps for heavy lift transport missions. Another three-engine model, the MH-53E Sea Dragon, has supported the US Navy in Airborne Minesweeping efforts.


First flight YCH-53E on March 1, 1974

In addition to serving the United States Military, the CH-53 platform has historically been operated by international customers such as the German Army, Austrian Air Force and Israeli Air Force

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