Sikorsky MH-53 Sea Dragon: Designed Specifically for Minesweeping Missions.

The Sikorsky S-80/H-53E, with its three engines, each generating 4,380 horsepower, surpasses the original Sikorsky S-65 production models in power and stands as the most formidable non-Russian helicopter ever constructed.

 

Of the early versions, the CH-53A and more powerful CH-53D were transformations for the US Marines Corps. All CH-53As were delivered with provisions for two mine-sweeping equipment, but the US Navy decided that a dedicated mine-countermeasures version would need more power and additional modifications. Additionally, 15 CH-53As were transferred to the US Navy as RH-53A minesweeping machines with 3,925 hp T64-GE-413 turboshafts and equipment for towing the EDO Mk 105 hydrofoil anti-mine sled.

 

The RH-53As were used to explore the possibilities of these new mine-sweeping techniques, which had previously been tried only with machines of inadequate power and capabilities. The arrival of 30 RH-53D Sea Dragon purposes-built mine-clearance machines equipped with 4,380 hp T64-GE-415 turboshafts, ended the employment of the earlier version. The aircraft were delivered to the US Navy in the summer of 1973 and retired in early 2003, being replaced by MH-53Es. Six RH-53Ds were delivered to the Imperial Iranian Navy.

 

The CH-53E was developed to meet a 1973 demand for an upgraded heavy-lift transport for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. From it was developed the MH-53E Sea Dragon. This definitive MCM (mine countermeasures) version has an enormously enlarged side sea-sweep sensor for an extra 3785 liters of fuel, for extended sweeping missions with the engines at sustained high power. The first prototype MH-53E made its initial flight on 23 December 1981 and around 44 remained in service until 2003.

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