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The CH-53K: Are We Purchasing the Right Amount?

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Master's thesis

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If the Marine Corps continues to move forward with the purchase of heavier equipment, they must increase the number of CH-53Ks purchased in order to allow the MV-22Bs and CH53Ks to efficiently conduct Ship to Objective Maneuver STOM forcible entry FE mission criteria to a distance of 110 nautical miles. The U.S. Marine Corps is in the process of modernizing the aircraft in its inventory with next generation capabilities. These upgrades combined with todays changes in Marine Corps combined arms doctrine makes it necessary to look at the acquisition process to ensure that the Marine Corps address how either modified or new equipment will operate under this new environment. The current design of the MV-22 should allow it to carry a 1O,000-pound vehicle out to 115 nautical miles, although some reports suggest that it will only be able to carry the weight out to 40 nautical miles. These are obvious concerns considering the MV-22 is to be the backbone of the future STOM mission and the limited amount of CH-53Ks will not be able to make up the shortfall. The CH-53K, however, will successfully meet all future Marine requirements, with a built-in margin. The planned metric of 110 nm radius and a payload of approximately 15 tons will successfully meet the STOM requirement of lifting a light armored vehicle or equivalent into combat. Not only will the CH-53K double the lift capability of the aging CH-53E, it will also have significant cost benefit. One major concern with both the MV22 and the CH-53K is that future Marine Corps gear is continually becoming heavier. This is due to the necessary increase in protection that is required out of the new equipment. Due to this weight increase, the CH-53K will quickly become the only viable heavy lift helicopter that can meet a 2015 to 2020 MEB operational requirement.

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  • Helicopters

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