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Marines begin "reset" of CH-53 fleet

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posted on Aug, 12 2016 @ 11:46 AM
I did a thread a few months ago about the Marines planning a major maintenance overhaul of the CH-53 fleet. That program has begun, with a plan for 147 aircraft to be rotated through New River, Miramar, and Kaneohe Bay. The validation aircraft went through the program at New River, and has flown back to the West Coast. Eventually, 16 aircraft will be going through, with 7 at New River, 7 at Miramar, and 2 at Kaneohe. The program will take 110 days per aircraft. The validation aircraft hadn't flown in four years, and only required 12 days of check flights before it was deemed operational, as compared to the normal 3-4 months that has previously been required for aircraft that were grounded that long.

The decision for the reset came after the January 2014 crash of an MH-53E Sea Dragon off Norfolk. Three of the five sailors on board were killed. The cause was eventually traced to a wire bundle that chafed and breached a fuel line, igniting a fire that filled the aircraft with smoke.

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.—U.S. Marine Corps has begun a full reset of its CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters, an effort aimed at significantly increasing the number of operationally fit aircraft and addressing systemic issues, which in recent years drove the platform’s readiness level to unsustainable depths.

The issue first came to light following the January 2014 crash of an MH-53E Sea Dragon-the Navy’s version of the aircraft-off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, during a routine training exercise. Three of the five Sailors onboard were killed. The subsequent investigation determined that electrical wires inside the aircraft had chafed against and breached a fuel line, sparking a fire that flooded the cabin and cockpit with thick smoke. The crash prompted an inspection of all CH/MH-53s for signs of chaffing between cabin fuel tubes and electrical wiring.

“What was discovered was that the material condition of the aircraft, both the CH-53E and the MH-53E, was degraded,” said Col. Hank Vanderborght, program manager for the H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office (PMA-261) at Naval Air Systems Command. “Those helicopters have been around since the early 80s, so 30-plus years, and we’d been at war [on terrorism] for the last 15 years, so the machines had been used pretty hard.”

posted on Aug, 12 2016 @ 11:57 AM
They better maintain the helo fleet, the Ospreys aren't cutting it.

posted on Aug, 12 2016 @ 12:04 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58

I'm glad their doing the proper maintenance, but damm...........those things are OLD!

posted on Aug, 16 2016 @ 10:19 AM
After replacement of the fuel lines and wiring, CH-53 readiness went up to 30%, an increase from 20% in 2015. It has the worst readiness rate of any aircraft in the inventory.

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