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CH-53 Sea Stallion
MH-53E Sea Dragon
MH-53J Pave Low III

General Characteristics

    Unit cost: $25 million (1993 dollars)

    Crew: Two officers (pilots); four enlisted (two flight engineers, two aerial gunners)

    Date Deployed: 1981

    Inventory: Active force, 41; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0
    CH-53D USMC Inventory: Active - 54; Reserve - 18
    CH-53E USMC Inventory: 160






Overall - 99 feet, 0.5 inches

Folded - 60 feet, 6 inches

Overall - 28 feet, 5 inches

Folded - 18 feet, 7 inches

Empty - 33,236 pounds

Loaded - 73,500 pounds


Overall - 73 feet, 6 inches

Folded - 56 feet, 6 inches

Overall - 24 feet, 11 inches

Folded - 16 feet, 7 inches

Empty - 24,606 pounds

Loaded - 42,000 pounds




Power Plant

Three T64-GE-416 and -416A turboshaft engines

Two T64-GE-413 turboshaft engines

Rotor Blades

Seven main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades

Six all-metal main rotor blades and four tail rotor blades


Onboard fuel supply

Provision for two external auxiliary fuel tanks

Helicopter in-flight refuel and air-to-air refueling capability

Onboard fuel supply

Provision for two external auxiliary tanks

No air-to-air refueling capability

Mark 105 Refueling System permits one aircraft to refuel another while on the ground

Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS)

Digital AFCS system using two digital onboard computers and a four axis autopilot

Pitch and roll channels that comprise the AFCS systems. AFCS 1 and AFCS 2 are redundant with a pitch and roll channel for each system


LTN-211 OMEGA System or AN/ARN-151(V)3 GPS (see notes following this table)

Two AN/APN-171(V) Radar Altimeters


AN/ARN-89A Automatic Direction Finder (ADF)

VIR-31A Very High Frequency (VHF) Omnidirectional Radio (VOR)

Instrument Landing System (ILS) navigation system and vertical gyro system

LTN 211 OMEGA System or AN/ARN-151(V)3 GPS (see notes following this table)

AN/APN-171(V) Radar Altimeter



APN-154 Radar Beacon Set


Two AN/ARC-182(V) VHF/Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Radios or AN/ARC-210(V) ECCM Radios (see notes following this table)

AN/ARC-174A(V)2 or AN/ARC-94 High Frequency Radio Sets

AN/APX-72 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Transponder

KIT-1C/TSEC Computer Transponder

TSEC/KY-58 Secure Voice Data Set

AN/AIC-14A Intercom

AN/ARC-182(V) VHF/UHF Radios or AN/ARC-210(V) ECCM Radio (see notes following this table)

ARC-94 High Frequency (HF) Communications System

APX-64(V) IFF Radar Identification Set

AAU-21/A Altitude Indicator Encoder

Juliet-28 Speech Security System

Helicopter Night Vision System

AN/AAQ-16B Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR)

AN/APN-217(V)3 Doppler Radar (see notes following this table)


Note 1: The LTN-211 is being replaced by the AN/ARN-151(V)3 GPS. The GPS integration into the CH-53 will provide worldwide navigation without land-based transmitter stations. Estimated completion date is FY01.

Note 2: The AN/ARC-182(V) Radio is being replaced by the AN/ARC-210(V) ECCM Radio System. The AN/ARC-210(V) ECCM Radio provides normal and secure communication in the Amplitude Modulation and Frequency Modulation modes in both UHF and VHF bands. Installations began in FY95 and are scheduled to be completed in FY01. The AN/ARC-210(V) is compatible with the TSEC/KY-58, has frequency hopping jam-resistant HAVEQUICK and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) capabilities, and is inter-operable with other radio systems employed by the Air Force and Army.

Note 3: The HNVS will provide motion vector cues to the NVG HUD.

b. Block Upgrade Modification. A block upgrade modification for the CH-53E was incorporated consisting of six ECPs. The ECPs encompass .50-caliber armament provisions, in-flight hydraulic servicing, improved chip detectors, composite tail rotor blade, main rotor pylon sliding cover latches, and additional cabin egress lighting.


CH-53E Sea Stallion


Sikorsky Aircraft (Prime), General Electric (Engines)


  • Seven-blade main rotor
  • Four-blade canted tail rotor
  • Designed for land- and ship-based operations
  • Automatic flight control and anti-icing systems give the helicopter an all-weather flight capability.
  • Empty weight: 33,226 pounds
  • Maximum gross weight: 73,500 pounds
  • Fuel capacity: 15,483 pounds (2,277 gallons/JP-5)
  • Overall length: 99 ft 1/2 in
  • Height: 28 ft 4 in
  • Rotor diameter: 79 ft
  • Can be configured for wheeled or palletized cargo
  • Seats for 55 passengers or litters for 24 patients
  • External cargo of up to 36,000 pounds may be transported by using either the single- or two-point suspension system.
  • Can conduct air-to-air refueling and helicopter in-flight refueling (HIFR)
  • Has provisions for internal range extension tanks

Power Plant:

  • Three General Electric T64-GE-416/416A turboshaft engines
  • Each engine can produce 4,380 shaft horsepower


  • Maximum range (unrefueled): 480 nautical miles
  • Ferry range: 990 nautical miles
  • Maximum endurance (unrefueled): 5.1 hours
  • Maximum allowable airspeed: 150 knots


  • APR-39 Radar Hazard Warning Set
  • ALE-39 Chaff and Flare Dispenser
  • ALQ-157 Infrared Jammer
  • AAR-47 Missile Warning System

Mission and Capabilities:

  • Primary mission is movement and vertical delivery of cargo and equipment.
  • When properly equipped, can be used for airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM)
  • Designed to carry 32,000 pounds of cargo at cruise speed to a range of no less than 50 nautical miles
  • At destination, the helicopter can discharge its cargo, equipment, or troops and return no less than 50 nautical miles—arriving with at least 20 minutes of fuel in reserve.
  • Designed to retrieve another CH-53E at a range of 20 nautical miles

Program Summary:

  • The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have purchased 172 CH-53Es and have accepted delivery of 149.
  • Operated by six tactical squadrons, one training squadron, and one special mission squadron.
  • Current procurement objective for support of active force requirements is 186 aircraft.
  • Slated to replace the aging RH-53D in two Marine Corps Reserve squadrons.
  • Planned to be operational through 2025
  • Improved operational capability at night and during periods of reduced visibility will be provided by incorporating Helicopter Night Vision System (HNVS) and the Aviator Night Vision System/Head-Up Display (ANVIS/HUD).
  • Enhanced night fighting capability is provided by modifying interior and exterior lighting systems for Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatibility.
  • Pilot and copilot crashworthy seats have been incorporated.
  • Improved troop seats, which allow for rapid cabin reconfiguration, will also be incorporated.
  • Additional modifications include: the Global Positioning System (GPS), the AN/ARC-210 radio, improved engine fire detection, and a tail rotor coupling monitor.

MH-53E Sea Dragon


  • Seven-blade main rotor
  • Four-blade tail rotor
  • Designed for land- and ship-based operations
  • Empty weight: 36,745 pounds
  • Maximum gross weight: 69,750 pounds
  • Internal fuel capacity: 21,844 pounds (JP-5)
  • Overall length: 99 ft 1/2 in
  • Height: 28 ft 4 in
  • Rotor diameter: 79 ft
  • Can be configured for wheeled or palletized cargo
  • Seats for 55 passengers or litters for 24 patients
  • External cargo hook system rated for 36,000 pounds
  • Capable of conducting air-to-air refueling


  • Three General Electric T64-GE-416/A turboshaft engines
  • Each engine can produce 4,380 shaft horsepower


  • Maximum range (main fuel; SL; STD day): 700 nautical miles
  • Maximum endurance (main fuel; SL; STD day): 6.6 hours
  • Maximum allowable airspeed: 150 knots


Not applicable

Missions and Capabilities:

  • Two primary missions—airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) and vertical on-board delivery (VOD)
  • AMCM mission includes: mine sweeping, mine neutralization, mine hunting, floating mine destruction, and channel marking.
  • VOD mission includes transporting cargo, supplies, and personnel to/from ships and shore facilities.

Program Summary:

  • U.S. Navy took delivery of the last of 48 MH-53Es in September 1994; 12 were procured for the Naval Reserve.
  • Three fleet squadrons operate the MH-53E: HM-14 and HM-15 (combined active/reserve AMCM squadrons) and HC-4 (NAS Sigonella, Italy-based VOD squadron).
  • Training conducted in HMT-302.
  • A validation/verification contract was awarded in FY95 for the Global Positioning System/cockpit upgrade integration effort. This program, known as the MH-53E Navigation/Communication System, will meet GPS navigation requirements and will correct a mission navigation system deficiency.
  • Three of four fleet retrofit contracts have been awarded for the T64-GE-419 engine upgrade program. Retrofit of the 419 engines are scheduled to commence in FY97. The 419 engine can produce 5,000 shaft horsepower and will correct a deficiency concerning one-engine-inoperative performance during AMCM operations.
  • Additional H-53 generic modification programs include: the AN/ARC-210, No. 2 engine thermal detector, NVG compatible exterior lighting, tail rotor drive shaft disconnect coupling monitor, integrated mechanical diagnostic system, and a service life extension program.


External Dimensions

Main rotor diameter 24.08m        
Main rotor blade chord 0.76m        
Tail rotor diameter 6.10m        
Tail rotor blade chord         
Distance between rotor centres         
Wing span         
Wing aspect ratio         
Length: overall, rotors turning 30.19m        
fuselage length 22.35m        
Width of fuselage 2.69m        
Height: to top of rotor head 5.32m        
Overall Height, (tail rotor turning) 8.97m        
Ground clearance, main rotor, turning         
Elevator span         
Width over skids         


Main rotor blades (each)         
Tail rotor blades (each)         
Main rotor disc 455.38m2        
Tail rotor disc 29.19m2        
Vertical fin         
Horizontal tail surfaces         

Weights and Loadings

Weight empty 16,482kg        
Mission fuel load (usable)         
Maximum useful load (fuel and disposable ordinance)         
Maximum Take off and landing weight         
Maximum disc loading         
Maximum power loading         

Performance :

Never -exceed speed (Vne)         
Maximum level speed at S/L 170 knots        
Rate of climb at S/L, OEI (25,000lb load) 762m/min        
Service ceiling @ max continuous power 5,640m        
Hovering ceiling @ max power:
Range at S/L with standard fuel, no reserves 1,120nm        

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:32:43 ZULU