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H-53 Variants

The H-53 family of heavy-lift helicopters is used by the United States Navy in a mine countermeasure role and by the Marine Corps to lift heavy equipment (including Light Armored Vehicles and artillery batteries). Despite its 1960s origin, it remains one of the most proven, competent heavy-lift systems in the world.


Primary contractor: Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

CH-53E Super Stallion

The CH-53E Super Stallion is designed for the transportation of equipment, supplies and personnel during the assault phase of an amphibious operation and subsequent operations ashore. Capable of both internal and external transport of supplies, the CH-53E is shipboard compatible and capable of operation in adverse weather conditions both day and night.
CH-53E Super Stallion Copyright © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin Knight, U.S. Navy


In active service


1 Pilot
1 Co-Pilot
1 Crew Chief / Right Gunner
1 Left Gunner (Optional)
1 Tail Gunner (Optional)


37 troops
- OR -
55 troops (with centerline seats installed)
- OR -
30 000 pounds of internal cargo payload
- OR -
32 000 pounds of external cargo payload


Length with rotating rotor: 30.2 meters 99.8 feet
Rotor diameter: 24.8 meters 79 feet
Height: 8.46 meters 27.76 feet
Empty weight: ~15 071 kilograms 33 226 pounds
Maximum takeoff weight: ~33 300 kilograms 73 414 pounds
Power plant: three General Electric T64-GE-416/416A turboshaft engines
Performance: 4 380 shaft horsepower (each engine)
Maximum speed: 170 knots (~315 kilometers per hour) (~196 miles per hour)
Service ceiling: 5 640 meters 18 504 feet
Range: 1 120 nautical miles (~2 074 kilometers) (~1 289 miles)
Rate of climb: 12.7 meters per second 2 500 feet per minute

MH-53E Sea Dragon

The MH-53E Sea Dragon is used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with secondary missions of vertical shipboard delivery and assault support. It can operate from carriers and other warships and is capable of towing a variety of mine hunting/sweeping countermeasures systems, including the Mk 105 magnetic minesweeping sled, the AQS-14A side-scan sonar, and the Mk 103 mechanical minesweeping system. When performing the assault support mission, the MH-53E can be fitted with the GAU-21 .50-cal. machine gun ramp-mounted weapon system.