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CH-53G Mittlerer Transporthubschrauber

The Sikorsky CH-53G Mittlerer Transporthubschrauber [MTH - Medium transportation helicopter] is operated by German Army Aviation (Deutsches Heer, Heeresflieger). After the distribution to different armed services of the USA also the German Federal Armed Forces ordered 112 CH-53G. From 1971-1975 a total of 110 helicopters were built in Germany. The goal of the army aviators in the year 2002 was a force of 80 CH-53G, which were to be achieved by current measures for the modernization and life extension of the CH-53G. For a few years the UN-special comission in Iraq used German CH-53Gs for transporting the investigators throughout the country until they were replaced by the Chilenian Bell UH-1D's.

The current handling qualities technical topic of Task X (Active Controlled Rotorcraft) of the U.S./German Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperative Research on Helicopter Aeromechanics is the evaluation of the cargo helicopter handling qualities requirements of Aeronautical Design Standard (ADS)-33E using a CH-53G of the German Federal Armed Forces. The flight testing started December 2004 with participation of a US pilot and engineer at Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 61 in Manching, Germany. The MTE course layouts were reviewed and finalized. Useful experience with the CH-53G flying the ADS-33 courses was gathered.

As Germany continues to plan for out-of-country operations, equipment to support such operations will be required. While exact requirements are being developed, it is likely that they will mirror the U.S. priorities, albeit modestly. However, in response to budget realities, the Bundeswehr canceled the requirement for an interim Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter and will upgrade 19 CH-53Gs. Due to the lower cargo capacities of the NH-90, service life extensions for at least a portion the CH-53 fleet are envisioned, bringing its useful life out to approximately the year 2030.

The CH-53G can lift enormous ammounts of material and can also carry 2 airborne-tanks type Weaponscarrier "Wiesel". While upgrades on the Wiesel I have been suspended, the Wiesel II Air Defense Transporter for the OZELOT Missile System was introduced in 1999. It will be larger than its predecessor and represents a reasonable compromise for a light (3.9 MT) armored vehicle which is air transportable by the CH-53G.

Aircraft availability, the average number of operational aircraft possessed per month by AFSOC, could be addressed by one of three alternatives. First, the severe usage placed on the platforms could be curtailed by limiting the MH-53M missions to low gross weight, low altitude operations. This would not be practical due to the nature of the essential NCA mission tasking, operational environments, and high Operations Tempo (OPSTEMPO). Second, if suitable aircraft, like CH-53D, were available at AMARC, the USAF could modify them to the current MH-53M configuration to provide additional SOF-capable mission assets. When the Air Force fleet size was increased from 9 to 47 in the late 1980s, all suitable airframes for conversion were consumed.

The final alternative for increasing fleet size to meet operational aircraft requirements was an opportunity to procure five CH-53G aircraft from Germany. The SOF SPO became aware of an opportunity occurring in 2003 and was working the costing details. Initial Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) estimates submitted by Germany were approximately $5.0 million per aircraft. These aircraft would then need to be modified to USAF configuration at a cost of approximately $5.0 million each. The five aircraft, with operating hours ranging from 5400-4400 hours, could be procured, modified to AF configuration, and placed in AF inventory for approximately $50 million. If this idea was accepted and funded, the SOF SPO planned to work the final details through the State Department.



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