Marine Corps

September 20, 2012

Throw some CH-53Ds on it: the history of the Sea Stallion

Story by Cpl. Laura Gauna
Desert Warrior Staff
Courtesy photo
An MCAS Miramar CH-53E Super Stallion from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, the Wolfpack, lowers a Bambi Bucket into a water hole at Case Springs, Camp Pendleton, Calif., during one of four runs in order to be certified by California Department of Fire to assist in helping firefighters fight wildland fires. The 53Es replaced the 53Ds.

After more than 40 years of service, the Marine Corps retired the aging CH-53D heavy lift helicopter after it completed its final combat operation in Afghanistan last month.

The CH-53D Sea Stallion supported the Marine Air Ground Task Force commander by providing assault support transport of heavy equipment, combat troops, and supplies, day or night under all weather conditions during expeditionary, joint, or combined operations.

“From Vietnam, to Iraq and now in Afghanistan, the helicopter has provided sustaining and mission critical lift in every clime and place over past 40 plus years,” said Marine Corps Col. Robert Pridgen, program manager for the CH-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office.

“I flew with this aircraft when it first came into Iraq and to be on the last flight in Afghanistan makes this a sad but good day,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Schram, a Marine Aircraft Group 24 maintenance controller, during an interview regarding his last flight on the CH-53D. “It brought an end to something great and I hope that we gave closure to the legacy that the Marines in Vietnam started.”

The CH-53E (Super Stallion) was the replacement for the CH-53D and began entering the military service in February of 1981; the upgrades included a third engine, a refueling probe that allows in-flight refueling, and slight larger dimensions. These upgrades allow the CH-53E (Super Stallion) to lift a larger payload and carry more troops and cargo and fly a longer range then the CH-53D.

The CH-5E is the current heavy lift platform for the Marine Corps and will be around for the next decade.

“When the CH-53D (Sea Stallion) was replaced by the CH-53E (Super Stallion) there was huge impact on what the units were able to do and perform,” said Gunnery Sgt. William McGowan, the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 assault support department chief. “It was a good change as the CH-53D was getting a bit too old.”

“There was a dramatic increase in power to the aircraft with the Super Stallion, which allowed the lifting of a much larger payload,” added McGowan. “It also brought a huge increase in the range that the aircraft could travel since it could now refuel in-flight without having to land.”

The CH-53E is a very capable aircraft with capabilities that will continue to be used today and in the future to support the MAGTF and the joint commander.

The replacement for the Super Stallion will be the CH-53K, which is currently being built and will begin flight testing in the next several years. It will have slightly larger internal dimensions to allow more capacity for troops and cargo, upgraded engines that will produce significantly more shaft horsepower than the ones currently on the CH-53E, and upgraded avionics which will improve the flight ability and stability of the aircraft. This version will begin military service sometime around year 2020.

For full story, visit

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



Raytheon, U.S. Army complete first AI3 guided flight test series

Raytheon and the U.S. Army successfully completed the first guided test vehicle flight series of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program at Yuma Proving Ground, Aris. The series consisted of two flight tests against different target profiles. In each case after launch, the interceptor initially guided on in-flight radio frequency datalink updates from the fire...

Ospreys support final WTI exercise

Marine Corps photograph by Lance Cpl. Zachary Scanlon A MV-22 Osprey refuels from the back of a KC-130 over the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Ranges near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., April 23.
Marine Corps photograph by Top of Form
by Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki

VMGR-252 Hercs support WTI

Marine Corps photograph by Top of Formby Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki A forklift loads gear and supplies onto a Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 KC-130J Hercules at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 22. VMGR-...


SecDef says furlough days reduced for civilians

The Defense Department has revised from 22 to 14 the number of days hundreds of thousands of civilian employees could be furloughed this year because of the budget sequester, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced March 29. In addition, a senior Defense Department official speaking on background told reporters the start of the furloughs will be...

In Brief – March 22, 2013

U.S. training accident kills seven Marines A Marine Corps official says the seven Marines killed in Nevada died after a 60mm mortar exploded unexpectedly during a training accident, March 18. The Marines immediately issued an indefinite moratorium on firing of all such mortars worldwide until an investigation clears as safe the type of weapon and...
Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Ken Kalemkarian

Marine Corps’ first operational F-35B conducts initial Vertical Landing

Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Ken Kalemkarian Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter prepares to make a vertical landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. This ma...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>