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Posted: 1/10/2006 10:00:17 AM EDT
USMC: New Heavy Lift Helicopter Starts Development
(Source: US Marine Corps; issued Jan. 9, 2006)


NAVAIR PATUXENT RIVER, Md. --- A new heavy lift helicopter is now officially in the pipeline for the Marine Corps following a Dec. 22, 2005 decision by the Honorable. Kenneth R. Krieg, under secretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to authorize the Heavy Lift Replacement program here to begin a $4.4 billion development program for the aircraft.

A "Cost Plus Award Fee" contract for the System Development and Demonstration phase, estimated to be approximately $2.9 billion, is expected to be signed with Sikorsky in March 2006.

An Initial System Development and Demonstration contract worth $8.8 million to Sikorsky was signed January 3. A follow-on ISDD contract is expected in several weeks. An exact figure for that contract is not yet known.

The ISDD contracts cover continuing risk reduction efforts and sub-system selection (including cockpit, engines, fuselage, etc), while the SDD contract covers most aspects of research, design, test and evaluation efforts performed by Sikorsky for the new helicopter.

Fleet Marines should start receiving the first of 156 new marinized heavy lifters, to be called the CH-53K, in 2015. Which is none too soon for the program manager, Col. Paul Croisetiere, or the Marine Corps, which has been relying heavily on the aging CH-53E Super Stallion in the increasingly relevant heavy lift mission.

“Since the first Gulf War, Marine Corps vertical heavy lift has been getting further and further away from the original requirement it was developed to meet, a behind the lines logistics support aircraft,” Croisetiere explained.

“From the Scott O’Grady rescue mission in the Balkans to delivering critically needed combat support in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, we’re wearing out the aircraft because it has been in incredibly high demand since the mid 90s. The CH-53E has proven to be extraordinarily relevant to the execution of our national security strategy, Navy and Marine Corps warfighting concepts and the associated need for capable heavy lift,” he said.

Because the current aircraft has performed such yeoman service outside of the spotlight, it hasn’t been given the attention “squeakier wheels” in the Defense Department arsenal have over the years.

“We currently have an under-resourced fleet,” Croisetiere said. “In the 25 years it has been in service we have not had the investment necessary to effectively address obsolescence, reliability and maintainability issues. We also have a significant fatigue life issue looming. A Service Life Assessment Program conducted on the CH-53E determined that the service life is 6,120 flight hours based on the aircraft’s transition bulkhead section (location of the tailboom’s fold point). Based on our current and predicted usage rates, we anticipate the current fleet will start reaching this fatigue life limit in FY11 at a rate of up to 15 aircraft per year. Not only is this an expensive fix but it will require significantly increased management attention to ensure we have sufficient numbers of aircraft available to meet our operational commitments."

“We have to start now if we’re going to have new CH-53Ks on the flight line ready for tasking when we start parking the Echoes,” Croisetiere stated.

“Marinized rotary wing heavy lift is a very necessary capability that demands a very capable platform to accomplish,” explained Lt.Col. Stewart Gold, the heavy lift program’s deputy for logistics support.

“The ability to deliver very heavy loads in extreme/austere conditions in support of Marine infantry, including combat, anywhere in the world comes at a price. On average, it costs approximately $15,000 and requires 44.1 maintenance man-hours for each flight hour,” Gold said.

Technologies under consideration in the CH-53K, which is being developed as a new-build derivative of the CH-53E, will include a Joint Interoperable “glass” cockpit; high-efficiency rotor blades with anhedral tips; low-maintenance elastomeric rotorhead; upgraded engine system; cargo rail locking system; external cargo improvements; and survivability enhancements.

Marine Corps acquisition officials also weighed the option of participating with the Army’s Joint Heavy Lift program.

“The Army’s proposed heavy lift requirement to transport the Future Combat System greatly exceeds our requirement,” Croisetiere said. “The actual aircraft hasn’t been designed yet, but initial analysis suggests the joint heavy lifter will be too large to operate from current and programmed amphibious shipping. We may have a use for it, but in more of a logistical role as a possible KC-130J replacement – we still need the CH-53K for tactical heavy lift.”

Joint Heavy Lifters may not be available any sooner than 2025, according to Croisetiere – more than 10 years after the Marine Corps will start parking its current fleet.

“We can’t wait for the Joint Heavy Lifter,” he added. “And even if we could, we still couldn’t use it because as currently envisioned, it’s too big to operate from our amphibious ships. It will be an incredible platform, but it won’t be a sea-based vertical lifter.”

“With more than twice the combat radius of the CH-53E, the CH-53K uses mature technology to deliver a fully shipboard compatible platform to meet current and future Marine Corps requirements,” he explains. “The CH-53E doesn’t even meet the heavy lift requirements that are considered necessary to meet the anticipated threats in 2015. The CH-53K is being designed to carry a cargo load of 27000 pounds out to a distance of 110 nautical miles, to an altitude of 3000 feet at an ambient temperature of 91.5 degrees F. One of the more appealing capabilities of the CH-53K will be its performance in mountainous areas in hot day conditions. If we had it today it would be the perfect aircraft for combat operations in Afghanistan and relief operations in Pakistan.”

Heavy lift program Marines expect to sign a “Cost Plus Award Fee” contract, worth an estimated $2.9 billion, with Sikorsky for the “System Development and Demonstration Phase” of the CH-53K’s development within the next few months, according to Croisetiere.

The first CH-53K, a flight test aircraft, is scheduled to make its first flight in FY11. Initial operating capability, or IOC, is scheduled in FY15 and is defined as a detachment of four aircraft, with combat ready crews, logistically prepared to deploy.

-ends-

Link Posted: 1/10/2006 10:03:54 AM EDT
"as a possible KC-130J replacement"..All the J's are brand new, and they are talking about this?

Good for the Marines, the 53 is a good platform.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 10:06:46 AM EDT
I'd love to see a super bug refuel from a CH-53K if its supposed to be a KC-130J rep.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 10:07:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:
"as a possible KC-130J replacement"..All the J's are brand new, and they are talking about this?

Good for the Marines, the 53 is a good platform.



because they know that by the time anything new and useful becomes a reality, if ever, the C-130Js will be nearing the end of their service life...

and some old Hercs have been in service since the '50s and '60s.

This will never turn into anything but paychecks for some guys and a lot of wasted taxpayer money.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 11:09:32 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/10/2006 11:23:15 AM EDT by ZitiForBreakfast]
Pun was intended with my post....I think they meant a Logistical Role replacement and not a platform replacement.

Most of the 'old' USMC herks are gone...R, T's and J's are what is left. All F's are in the desert.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 11:19:06 AM EDT
So Teddy is looking for a new ride him, SPLASH, and his date?

Link Posted: 1/10/2006 12:46:17 PM EDT
Seems the USA is falling behind the technology of heavy-lift helocopters. The Ruskies are right on top of it.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 1:02:15 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/10/2006 1:02:30 PM EDT by ZitiForBreakfast]

Originally Posted By warlord:
Seems the USA is falling behind the technology of heavy-lift helocopters. The Ruskies are right on top of it.



I dont think we need more than 1 (heavy lift) for the US Military...I would, and have, place my life in a 53 anyday of the week (as long as USMC pilots are flying ).

How does a 47 comp out to a 53 in the lift catagory?
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 1:02:59 PM EDT
BTW, the 53 in the background is flaring with the gear swinging down, way cool.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 2:28:00 PM EDT
The Marines are still flying a few CH-53D's.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 2:32:24 PM EDT
And E's.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 2:42:19 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/10/2006 2:44:45 PM EDT by Stryfe]

Originally Posted By LonePathfinder:
I'd love to see a super bug refuel from a CH-53K if its supposed to be a KC-130J rep.


The proposed joint heavy lifter is being considered for the KC replacement, not the CH53K.

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:
The Army’s proposed heavy lift requirement to transport the Future Combat System greatly exceeds our requirement,” Croisetiere said. “The actual aircraft hasn’t been designed yet, but initial analysis suggests the joint heavy lifter will be too large to operate from current and programmed amphibious shipping. We may have a use for it, but in more of a logistical role as a possible KC-130J replacement – we still need the CH-53K for tactical heavy lift.”

Joint Heavy Lifters may not be available any sooner than 2025, according to Croisetiere – more than 10 years after the Marine Corps will start parking its current fleet.

“We can’t wait for the Joint Heavy Lifter,” he added. “And even if we could, we still couldn’t use it because as currently envisioned, it’s too big to operate from our amphibious ships. It will be an incredible platform, but it won’t be a sea-based vertical lifter.”


And do superbugs refuel from KC130s? I thought the 130s were for refueling helos.
Link Posted: 1/10/2006 2:58:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/11/2006 9:17:05 AM EDT by ZitiForBreakfast]
The KC-130's can fuel anything, in air or on the ground. We have plugged with everything from fast movers to 53's, to Blackhawk/ Seahawks and can do Rapid Ground Refueling as well. If it takes JP fuel, it can get it from a 130.

We have givin gas to Army Apache's, Iroquis (sp?) and others in the RGR mode and tanks...

When giving gas to 53's and other helo's the 130's are flying real slow, flaps extended, etc....We used to give gas to USA and USN black/seahawks in Iceland after the drunk sailors would get naked and jump into the north Atlantic, we would plug with them for hours to they could remain on station pulling them out.

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 9:04:01 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:

Originally Posted By warlord:
Seems the USA is falling behind the technology of heavy-lift helocopters. The Ruskies are right on top of it.



I dont think we need more than 1 (heavy lift) for the US Military...I would, and have, place my life in a 53 anyday of the week (as long as USMC pilots are flying ).

How does a 47 comp out to a 53 in the lift catagory?

Link Posted: 1/12/2006 1:33:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ASUsax:

Originally Posted By ZitiForBreakfast:

Originally Posted By warlord:
Seems the USA is falling behind the technology of heavy-lift helocopters. The Ruskies are right on top of it.



I dont think we need more than 1 (heavy lift) for the US Military...I would, and have, place my life in a 53 anyday of the week (as long as USMC pilots are flying ).

How does a 47 comp out to a 53 in the lift catagory?




The short answer is the CH-53E is more capable than the CH-47F.

Orginally there were two heavy lift helicopters in US service. They were the CH-53 (USN/USMC/USAF) and the CH-54 (US Army). The CH-47 was a medium helicopter. As the Army got heavier, the Army decided to make the CH-47 a bit stronger and get rid of the CH-54 Skycrane. The reason was that the CH-54's were getting old and expensive to maintain (similar to where the CH-53E is now), and just like an old car, there gets to be a point were it's cheaper to buy something new, than keep fixing the old one that breaks down all the time.

When the Army came out with the CH-47D, the Chinook became (just barely) a heavy lift helicopter and the Skycrane was retired. Before you start crying tears about the demise of the Skycrane, remember that the equipment in the Army had become so heavy that it either was too heavy to be moved by either aircraft (like M1 Tanks, or M2 Brads), or it was light enough that it could be moved by either aircraft now that the 47D was there (like a 155mm gun, 5ton truck, etc). So there was no need for two aircraft to do the same mission, nor was there any reason really for ANY heavier lift helicopter, like the CH-53, in the Army. Simply put the Army didn't need anything more than the Chinook because the 47 could move everything that the Army owned, that could be moved by helicopter.

The situation in the other services was different. The 53 was used for long range stuff, and for lifting heavy stuff (like LAV-25's etc), and supplies over the beach, or out to ships, or big missle parts, etc that actually required the lifting capacity of the 53. With that extra capacity came extra cost. The 53 costs far more than the 47 to run per hour, and takes more work per flight hour, but if you need the lift that's what it takes. The USMC needs that lift, so it pays for it. The Army doesn't need that lift, so it pays far less by running Chinooks.

The 53K will reduce that cost per flight hour by some 25%. There's alot of maintenance intensive parts on the 53E that will be done away with on the K, simply being replaced with more modern stuff. To give you an idea of the cost, the article states a 44:1 ratio of maintenance to flight hour. That means for just a single two hour flight in the CH-53E, the wrench turners will be spending 88 hours working on that aircraft. That's a shitload of maintenance. Frankly buying the 53K is a no brainer. The maintenance savings alone over the lifetime of the fleet will actually pay for many of the aircraft.

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