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Sikorsky MH-53 (Pave Low)

Multirole Transport Helicopter

Sikorsky MH-53 (Pave Low)

Multirole Transport Helicopter

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The mammoth Sikorksy MH-53 Pave Low series of helicopters proved critical to US Special Forces operations all over the globe.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1981
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Sikorsky Aircraft - USA
PRODUCTION: 41
OPERATORS: United States (retired)
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Sikorsky MH-53M (Pave Low IV) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 6
LENGTH: 91.86 feet (28 meters)
WIDTH: 71.85 feet (21.9 meters)
HEIGHT: 24.93 feet (7.6 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 32,000 pounds (14,515 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 46,297 pounds (21,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x General Electric T64-GE-100 turboshaft engines developing 4,330 shaft horsepower each and driving six-blade main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.
SPEED (MAX): 196 miles-per-hour (315 kilometers-per-hour; 170 knots)
RANGE: 690 miles (1,111 kilometers; 600 nautical miles)
CEILING: 15,997 feet (4,876 meters; 3.03 miles)




ARMAMENT



Typical: 3 x 7.62mm M134 Miniguns OR 3 x 12.7mm Browning M2 Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) positioned one at left fuselage side, one at right fuselage side and one on the rear loading ramp. Two external side sponson hardpoints reserved for external fuel stores.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• MH-53 - Base Series Designation
• YHH-53H "Pave Low I" - Prototype Designation
• HH-53H "Pave Low II" - Night Infiltrator variant
• MH-53H - Redesignation of HH-53H production mark
• MH-53J "Pave Low III" - Special Forces variant based on HH-53B, HH-53C and HH-53H production models.
• MH-53M "Pave Low IV" - Improved and modernized MH-53J production mark.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Sikorsky MH-53 (Pave Low) Multirole Transport Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 6/12/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The MH-53 was a series of large transport helicopters operated by the United States Air Force in the special operations role. The MH-53 designation breaks down as "M" standing for Multi-Mission and "H" standing for helicopter. The designation came about after extensive modifications were made to existing HH-53 "Super Jolly Green Giants" (or "Super Jollies") operated by the USAF in Vietnam. After the war, these HH-53 aircraft were fitted with a myriad of improved systems, new engines and new rotors - earning them an all-new designation through the "Pave Low" program, a program which greatly increased the type's ability for night and adverse weather operations. These helicopters were designed for long-range, low-level flights in an effort to assist ground special forces through clandestine insertion, extraction and resupply as needed - often times behind enemy lines.

The MH-53 was operated by a crew of six consisting of two pilots (officers), two flight engineers and two enlisted gunners. Defensive suppression armament can consist of 3 x 7.62mm miniguns or 3 x 12.7mm heavy caliber machine guns. The MH-53 can record speeds of up to 165 miles per hour, a ceiling of up to 16,000 feet and a range of 690 miles. Power is derived from twin General Electric T64-GE-100 series turboshaft engines developing 4,330 horsepower each and powering a six-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor.

The MH-53J "Pave Low III" series was based on modified MH-53H and HH-53 models for the special forces insertion/resupply/extraction role. Thirty-two HH-53s along with nine MH-53H systems were selected for Pave Low III modification. Onboard systems included GPS, inertial navigation and Forward-Looking InfraRed (FLIR) along with an APQ-158 terrain-following and avoidance radar. This allowed the MH-53 the ability to complete low-light, low-level, all-weather flights consistent with special forces operations. Improved armor protection for the crew and systems also greeted the design.

The MH-53M "Pave Low IV" represented the final iteration of the Pave Low series. These systems were upgraded platforms of the MH-53J "Pave Low III" and fitted with improved defensive capabilities. Chief among these is the implementation of the Interactive Defensive Avionics System/Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal (IDAS/MATT). Pave Low IV gave MH-53 crews access to battlefield situations via a color digital map (even visible with the use of night vision goggles). The map was updated via satellite linkages and displayed near real-time data (including threats) along the flight route. MH-53Ms served on through 2008 in the special operations role in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The MH-53 series was then officially retired from active service with the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in 2008. Dating back to their days as the HH-53 in the Vietnam War (a famous group of five such aircraft taking part in Operation Kingpin - the rescue of American POWs from Son Tay prison near Hanoi), these aircraft served for many decades in their modified forms. Operations in Desert Storm were also conducted with this platform.




MEDIA







General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
Performance  
Survivability  
Versatility  
Impact  


Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating (BETA)
26
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (196mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Sikorsky MH-53M (Pave Low IV)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
41
41

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.