The largest and most powerful rotorcraft in the U.S. military inventory, the three-engined Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopter is used by the U.S. Marine Corps to conduct amphibious assault missions and for transporting heavy cargo. The Super Stallion also serves the U.S. Navy by recovering downed aircraft on the branch’s extensive network of aircraft carriers. Since its maiden flight in 1974, a total of 172 Super Stallions have been delivered with 165 units in service with U.S. Marine Corps squadrons in the Pacific Fleet and the Atlantic Fleet.
Powerful enough to lift every aircraft in the U.S. Marine Corps’ inventory (except for the Lockheed Martin KC-130 tanker), the CH-53E Super Stallion can lift aircraft as heavy as itself. The Super Stallion is engineered to lift 73,500 pound loads, and is the only rotorcraft capable of lifting a 155mm howitzer, its entire crew, and ammunition. It can carry a 26,000-pound Light Armored Vehicle, 16 tons of cargo for one hundred miles, or enough fully-armed Marines to carry out an assault or humanitarian mission.
Fitted with a Sikorsky blade inspection system, the seven-bladed main rotor of the Super Stallion is composed of titanium spar with a composite glass fiber and epoxy skin in a Nomex honeycomb design. The rotor head is constructed out of titanium and steel. The watertight fuselage of the Super Stallion is made of light alloy, steel and titanium assemblies.
To engage enemy forces, the CH-53E Super Stallion is window-mounted with 0.50-caliber machine guns to defend the front and sides of the aircraft. To protect the rear, a ramp-mounted weapon system (RMWS) consisting of the FabriqueNationaleHerstal GAU-2 0.50-caliber reduced-recoil machine gun which can be removed and installed in under two minutes. The RMWS fires 1,100 rounds per minute. The Super Stallions serving the Navy are mounted with three GAU-21 or XM-218 0.50-caliber machine guns.
For its electronic warfare capabilities, the CH-53E is integrated with an ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warning system and chaff and flare dispensers. Northrop Grumman equips the Marine Corps’ fleet with its directional infrared countermeasures system (DIRCM). Rockwell Collins produces the electronic radio and ancillary equipment.
The glass fiber and epoxy cockpit seats fit three. The default seating configuration of the CH-53E seats 37 troops. United Kingdom-based Martin Baker supplies the crashworthy seats. Equipped with a hydraulically-powered rear ramp, the cabin can accommodate seven 1.02 meters by 1.22 meters pallets.
The general characteristics of the CH-53E Super Stallion are as follows:
|Crew||5 – pilot, copilot, crew chief, mechanic, and gunner|
|Manufacturer||Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation|
|Operators||U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy|
|Main Rotor Diameter||24.08 meters|
|Tail Rotor Diameter||6.1 meters|
|Overall Length with Rotors Turning||30.19 meters|
|Max Gross Weight||73,500 pounds (with external load)|
|Speed||172 miles/hour (150 knots)|
|Ceiling||10,000 feet (without supplemental oxygen)|
|Range||621 miles (540 nautical miles)|
|Power Plant||Three General Electric T64-GD-416 turboshaft engines (4,380 shp each)|