STATUS: Active, Limited Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Sikorsky Aircraft / Erickson Air-Crane - USA
OPERATORS: Italy; South Korea; United States
LENGTH: 88.48 feet (26.97 meters)
WIDTH: 72.01 feet (21.95 meters)
HEIGHT: 25.43 feet (7.75 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 19,798 pounds (8,980 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 46,297 pounds (21,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Pratt & Whitney T73-P-700 turboshaft engines developing 4,800 shaft horsepower each powering a six-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor.
SPEED (MAX): 149 miles-per-hour (240 kilometers-per-hour; 130 knots)
RANGE: 230 miles (370 kilometers; 200 nautical miles)
CEILING: 18,373 feet (5,600 meters; 3.48 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,330 feet-per-minute (405 meters-per-minute)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter.
Entry last updated on 8/7/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The original Sikorsky S-60 proved itself as a heavy-lift helicopter through its sole example completed. This model was born from the established CH-47 "Mojave" (detailed elsewhere on this site) of the United States military and used as the basis for the dimensionally larger S-64 "Skycrane" heavy-lift series. The large helicopter - easily identifiable by its largely missing fuselage section - has seen consistent service in the civilian market since introduction in the 1960s. It served as the base design for the military-minded CH-54 "Tarhe" line as well. A prototype went airborne for the first time on May 9th, 1962 and, in 1992, production rights for the series was obtained by Erickson Air-Crane which has taken on manufacture of the large helicopter from Sikorsky since.
Total production of S-64 units was 110 beginning with the original S-64 built in three examples. These were followed by six evaluation models for the United States Army as the S-64A. From that came the S-64B which was the civilian-minded version of the Army's CH-54A model and seven were produced. Under Erickson, the line was broadened to include the S-64E and S-64F model marks, these becoming upgraded forms of the CH-54A and CH-54B respectively - the F-model introducing Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A series engines.
Civilian market operators of the S-64 are found in Italy, South Korea and the United States. Its primary role is in firefighting where its unique configuration allows the helicopter to carry a considerable water load over uneven terrain, dropping its contents onto raging wildfires with the hope of putting the fire source out.
Production of the military-minded Tarhe yielded 105 total units of its own beginning with the six YCH-54A pre-production models. These were followed by the CH-54A production form which fitted 2 x PW T73-P-1 series turboshaft engines of 4,500 horsepower and 54 examples were built to the standard. The CH-54B saw an increase in overall weight as well as a twin-wheeled undercarriage introduced while power was now served through PW T73-P799 turboshaft engines of 4,800 horsepower. 37 examples were manufactured.
Beyond its service with the United States Army, the CH-54 has been featured by the NASA service of the United States for various program work. In military use, the Tarhe has hauled all manner of heavy objects - from oversized bombs and attack helicopters to combat tanks and cargo containers. A special version even featured skies as its undercarriage.
March 2018 - Flight tests of an S-65 featuring a composite main rotor blade assembly are ongoing. Certification is scheduled for later in 2018 and will be an offered upgrade to E- and F-models as well as to the related CH-54A/B model family. The airfoil on the new blade design is expected to increase overall efficiency of these aging platforms.
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Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (149mph).
Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Sikorsky CH-54B Tarhe's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
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