Sunday, January 24, 2010
With the ongoing dilemma in the USAF for a replacement helicopter for Special Operations, you have to ask yourself why don’t they just piggyback on the USMC/Sikorsky CH-53K program. According to a recent press release from Sikorsky y
“The CH-53K helicopter will maintain virtually the same footprint as the CH-53E aircraft, but will nearly triple the payload to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “hot high” ambient conditions. The CH-53K helicopter’s maximum gross weight (MGW) with internal loads is 74,000 pounds compared to 69,750 pounds for the CH-53E aircraft. The CH-53K’s MGW with external loads is 88,000 pounds as compared to 73,500 for the CH-53E helicopter.
Features of the CH-53K helicopter include: a joint interoperable glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; upgraded engines; a locking cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and reduced operation and support costs.
The CH-53K helicopter team has successfully completed several risk reduction initiatives on two critical technologies, the split torque main gear box and the advanced main rotor blade, and is preparing for Technology Readiness Assessment in early 2010. The program conducted a successful Preliminary Design Review in September 2008, and is tracking toward a Critical Design Review in 2010 with an Initial Operational Capability milestone scheduled in early 2016.”With these advancements in the primary systems how hard would it be for Sikorsky and the USAF to install upgraded PAVE LOW avionics in the bird and presto you have a new long range SAR and Special Operations helicopter Sort of a Super PAVE LOW, without all the drawbacks that were pointed out with the MC-47. But since a but of USAF airframes could reduce everyone’s costs and Sikorsky know how to integrate the avionics to make a new PAVE LOW and we know how to maintain and support a 53 series helicopter and still have the basic infrastructure to make it happen it probably won’t as the Air Staff is seemingly blind to common sense.
Artwork photo Sikorsky