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Strategic and Operational Relevance of Heavy Lift in the United States Marine Corps: CH-53E Program

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Master's thesis

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This essay examines the strategic and operational relevance of the heavy lift capability in the United States Marine Corps. The only way to truly realize the full potential of Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare EMW and the capabilities of the MV-22, is to maintain the existing synergistic relationship between the medium and heavy lift aircraft working together to accomplish the mission. In current future plans the MV-22 will be required to carry external loads for 48 percent of its sorties in the movement of a Regimental Landing Team RLT. This minimizes the speed advantage of the MV-22, as the limitations inherent with external loads increased drag, load instability and integrity, prevent taking most external loads out toward the maximum speed of the MV-22. Accordingly, the best alternative to ensuring that we preserve the MV-22 speed advantage is to ensure there are adequate numbers of CH-53E helicopters to perform all the majority of external lift missions. If the Marine Corps changed the current ratio of medium lift to heavy lift aircraft from 31 to 21 i.e. by adding two CH-53Es to the current MEU, increasing the number of CH-53Es to six we would see a 20 percent reduction in total waves and a 22 percent decrease in time required to accomplish a reinforced Company movement. In the future changing the force ratio from 21 to 11 medium to heavy, the CH-53E SLEP has the potential to provide a significant improvement in the ability to move the force. There is the potential for a 28 percent decrease in sorties required to accomplish a Regimental Landing Team movement by air and an overall timesaving of 29 percent in addition to the already realized savings of 25 percent from balancing the force with todays CH-53E. The projected force structure will not be capable of supporting the concepts of Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare, STOM and OMFTS without 100 percent utilization of all of the CH-53E assets forecast to be in the inventory.

Subject Categories:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Helicopters

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