Unbelievable Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion Facts

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CH-53E_Nato Forces conduct helicopter insertion
Currently, there are 152 CH-53E aircraft in operation. Sikorsky’s Super Stallion is slated to be in service through 2025. This heavy-duty helicopter is the United States Marine Corps and Navy’s primary cargo helicopter. This powerful bird has been in use for more than four decades. Here are 50 Unbelievable Facts About The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion.

CH-53E_Marines offload from a Marine CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter
“Hurricane Maker” is a nickname for the Ch-53E because the downwash of the helicopter is so strong it creates waves over water and has knocked over full grown men with relative ease.

CH-53E_Marines off-load a CH-53E from a C-5
The CH-53E is capable of lifting every aircraft in the Marine Corps’ arsenal except the KC-130.

CH-53E_Marines load load an internally transportable vehicle, light strike variant (ITV-LSV) onto a CH-53E

Super Stallion contains seven 300-gallon fuel tanks and two 650-gallon external tanks. That’s enough gas to give the Ch-53E a ferry range capability of 1,240 nautical miles (1,426 miles).

CH-53E_Marines load a CH-53E Super Stallion onto a C-5 Galaxy
The unit cost for a CH-53E is $24.9 million dollars, not including research and development. The most expensive U.S. helicopter is actually its successor, the CH-53K King Stallion, at $95 million per unit.

CH-53E_Marines exit a CH-53E Sea Stallion
A Heavy Lift Helicopter was first formally requested in 1967 by the Navy to increase tactical mobility, and improve material handling for logistical support. The Department of Defense approved the CH-53E design in November, 1971.

CH-53E_Marines conduct an external lift during a CH-53 day battle drill in support
44. The CH-53E is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military, and the largest helicopter outside of Russia.

CH-53E_Marines check over their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter before departing La Aurora
43. The Super Stallion has a cruise speed of 172 mph and a maximum speed of 196 mph.

CH-53E_Marines and sailors are lowered to the ground during their cast master course
42. Sikorsky developed the S-80 helicopter in response to the 1967 request for a Heavy Lift Helicopter. The CH-53E (S-80) evolved from the Sikorsky H-53 (S-65) mainly by adding larger rotor systems and a third engine.

CH-53E_Helicopter Support Team Gets Carried Away
41. The production contract was awarded to Sikorsky in 1978. The CH stands for Cargo Helicopter.

CH-53E_drops water in a mock fire area during an aerial firefighting exercise
40. 227 CH-53E Super Stallion’s were built overall, and the first one was deployed in 1983 aboard the USS Iwo Jima.

CH-53E_Ch-53E-Interiors
39. The MH-53E Sea Dragon is a dedicated mine-sweeping version of the CH-53E. It has larger fuel capacity, carries no weapons and is specially designed to drag the Mk 105 magnetic mine-sweeping sled.

CH-53E_CH-53E & MH-60M conduct an aerial refueling exercise in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor course
38. The Super Stallion has a forward-extending fuel probe which allows for in-flight refuel from a KC-130. Essentially, this gives the CH-53E unlimited range.

CH-53E_A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter lands at Camp Al-Galail, Qatar
37. The Super Stallion can also hoist hose refuel from a surface ship while hovering.

CH-53E_A Marine prepares for take-off on a CH-53E Super Stallion during a CH-53 day battle drill
36. The seating capacity in the CH-53E is 37 soldiers normally, but can be outfitted with center row of seats for a max capacity of is 55 soldiers.

CH-53E_A CH-53E with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH-464) taxis on an airfield as part of Cold Response 16
35. A crew of 5 operate the CH-53E, two pilots and three gunners. During peacetime, only the two pilots operate the vehicle.

CH-53E_A CH53E super stallion helicopter sits on a landing zone before conducting a helicopter support exercise
34. The seven rotor blades on the Super Stallion are made of a titanium-fiberglass composite.

CH-53E_A CH-53E drops an Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon raid craft in the ocean
33. With a helicopter this large and heavy, over-steering can be deadly. The CH-53E is outfitted with a digital automatic flight control system that keeps the pilot from over-steering.

CH-53E_ CH-53E rapidly deploys the M777 Howitzer
32. The fuselage of the CH-53E is made of titanium, steel and light alloy and is completely watertight.

CH-53E_ a CH-53E and two MH-60M Blackhawks conduct an aerial refueling exercise
31. The cockpit contains night vision capability, and is outfitted with AN/AVS-6 night vision goggles. The night vision system allows low-altitude operations at night as well as in poor weather.

CH-53E-Marines with Helicopter Support Team watch pound target lifted by a CH-53E
30. A hydraulic rear ramp used to load freight is attached to the cabin. The CH-53E can hold a maximum of 32,000 pounds of internal payload.

CH-53E-A CH-53E flies over Buckley Air Force Base during a familiarization course
29. Three General Electric turbofan T64 engines power the Super Stallion. Each engine produces 4380 shaft horsepower.

CH-53E-A CH-53E flies over Buckley Air Force Base during a familiarization course different angle
28.  The helicopter, created for heavy-lift duty, can carry a 26,000-pound Light Armored Vehicle. That is definitely one of the more interesting facts about CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.

CH-53E_U.S. Marines wit fast-rope out of a CH-53E Super Stallion onto the flight deck of the USS Essex (LHD 2)
27. The Super Stallion is 99 feet long, 28 feet tall and weighs 33,000 pounds. That’s as long as two semi-trailers and as tall as a telephone pole!

CH-53E_U.S. Marines load into a CH-53E Super Stallion
26. The engine exhaust is equipped with infrared suppressors which lower the vehicle’s heat signature. This is an attempt to counteract any ground-to-air heat-seeking missiles.

CH-53E_U.S. Marine prepare to fast rope from a CH-53E Super Stallion aboard Marine Corps
25. The Super Stallion is equipped with two window-mounted .50 BMG XM218 machine guns as well as a .50 caliber GAU-21 machine gun mounted on the rear ramp that can be broken down, moved and re-installed elsewhere on the bird in under two minutes.


24. The CH-53E has enough power to carry 16 tons of cargo 50 miles and back. 16 tons is equivalent to about 20 full-grown cows.

CH-53E_Marines prepar to connect a 155mm Howitzer to a CH-53E Super Stallion
23. The first CH-53E was delivered by Sikorsky to the Marine Corps in 1981 and the last one was delivered in 2003.


22. In 2000, the Marine Corps announced the CH-53X program to upgrade all existing CH-53E’s. However, in 2005, an Analysis of Alternatives was drafted that determined a new build was a better option – thus the CH-53K King Stallion that is set to deploy in 2025.

CH-53E_marines conduct a pre-flight inspection on a CH-53E Super Stallion
21. In 1995, the CH-53E team ‘Dash 2’ rescued Capt. Scott O’Grady deep into enemy territory of Bosnia after his F-16 was shot down. “I have to give credit to the pilots of the Super Stallions. They did some incredible flying. When we were going in, it didn’t look like there was going to be enough room to land, but they somehow squeezed the aircraft through the trees anyway,” said Sgt Christopher White, a security team leader.


20. The “hell hole”, as it’s referred to by Marines, is a hole in the middle of the aircraft. Marines drop a rope down and then repel to the ground through the hell hole while the Super Stallion hovers above ground.

CH-53E_Landing support specialists connect a target to a CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopter
19. In 1991, violence took over the city of Mogadishu, Somalia during the Somalian Civil War. Two CH-53Es, as well as multiple CH-46s, Sea Knights evacuated both foreign and U.S. nationals from the U.S. Embassy.

CH-53E_CH-53E Super Stallions disembark
18. In October of 2001, six CH-53Es flew 550 miles to secure the first land base in Afghanistan. This marked the longest amphibious raid in history.

CH-53E_CH-53E hovers above a landing support specialist
17. The VH-53F was a proposed Presidential transport variant of the CH-53E, but it was never green-lighted.

CH-53E_CH-53E flies over the Pacific Ocean during helocast training as part of Talisman Saber
16. The CH-53E differs from its predecessor mainly in that it added a third engine, canted the tail rotor 20 degrees and adding a seventh blade to the main rotor.

CH-53E_Ch-53E departs the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge
15. The CH-53E Super Stallion will be succeeded by the CH-53K King Stallion. The King Stallion will have new engines, a wider cabin, updated avionics and technology and new composite rotor blades – among other additions.

CH-53E_marines begin power spraying CH-53E
14. 79 feet is the main rotor’s diameter of the C-53E. The largest rotor diameter is 105 feet on the Russian Mi-26.

H-53E_A CH-53E Super Stallion transports a Canadian Forces CH-47
13. The CH-53E has a service ceiling of 18,500 feet. The world-record for absolute altitude in a helicopter is 40,814 feet.

CH-53E_A CH-53E Super Stallion lands aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif
12. The CH-53E can haul external loads of up to 36,000 pounds, meaning that it can recover and haul a vehicle or machine its own size!

CH-53E_A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter transports Marines from 81 mm mortar platoon to the USS Iwo Jima
11. Dual-extension cargo hooks give the CH-53E Super Stallion increased external payload capability necessary to be included in the Heavy Lifting Helicopter category. Belly hooks, or primary hooks, are more common – single hooks used for lighter payloads.

CH-53E_A CH-53E Super Stallion flies towards an M777 Howitzer
10. The CH-53E ranks fifth in the world in total payload capability behind the CH-54B TARHE (4), MIL MI-6 AND MIL MI-10 (3), MIL MI-26 (2) and the MIL V-12 (1).

CH-53E_A CH-53E Super Stallion flies over Buckley Air Force Base
9. In 1970, the Department of Defense was going to select the Boeing Vertol XCH-62 as its primary Heavy Lift Helicopter until the Navy and Marine Corps convinced them that Boeing’s helicopter was too large to fit on amphibious vessels.

CH-53E_A CH-53E Super Stallion flies in formation during a flight in El Centro, Calif
8. At peak performance, the Super Stallion climbs altitude at a rate of 2,500 feet per minute.

CH-53E_a CH-53E Super Stallion during Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33
7. The CH-53E Super Stallion is integrated with ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warning system and chaff and flare dispensers – giving it electronic warfare options.

CH-53E_A CH-53E helicopter lands to offload personnel
6. The Super Stallion is heavily involved in humanitarian roles. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed four CH-53Es to Pakistan to deliver aid and evacuate victims in the flood ravaged region in 2010.

CH-53E_ Marines fast rope out of a CH-53E Super Stallion aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii
5. The U.S. Marine Corps used the CH-53E to assist with medical transport in Beirut after a truck bomb killed over 200 militants and critically injured several others in the 1980s.

H-53E_ Marine Cpl. Jakob Stark practices aerial sniping from a CH-53E Super Stallion
4. The CH-53E is a distant relative of the CH-3 Jolly Green Giant, the helicopter that is famous for search and rescue efforts in Southeast Asia.

CH-53E_A CH-53E is flanked by pumps and cleaning equipment prior to a detailed aircraft decontamination
3. The Super Stallion’s cargo compartment is 30 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and 6.5 feet high – large enough for 24 MedEvac litter patients.

CH-53E_A CH-53E helicopter flies overhead at Kiwanis Park
2. CH-53E is all-weather capable thanks to dual digital flight control system and engine anti-ice system – it’s rotor wings are a composite material that allow it to be effective in hot and high atmosphere.

CH-53E_ helicopter crew chief communicates with flight personnel aboard a CH-53E
1. The CH-53E is the only rotorcraft capable of transporting Howizter’s. The Super Stallion can haul a M198 155 mm Howitzer, all ammunition and its crew of 9 a little more than 100 miles.