Is Production of the CH-53E Helicopter Warranted?

PSAD-78-27: Published: Mar 23, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1978.

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The CH-53E helicopter is being developed to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with a shipboard compatible helicopter having twice the lift capability of its predecessors. Operationally and technically, the CH-53E has demonstrated the potential to be an effective aircraft. The Navy has restructured the program to overcome problems encountered during development.

Costs increased by $113.2 million or 14 percent from September 1976 to September 1977. The reduction from 70 to 49 aircraft increased program unit costs from $12.6 million to about $14.7 million, but total program costs decreased about $152 million to $777.7 million. Although recent tests have supported granting provisional approval for service use, they have revealed deficiences which need to be corrected and/or evaluated, including: (1) main rotor blade bonding and rain erosion problems; (2) power losses caused by exhaust gas reingestion; (3) a faulty torque indicating system; (4) low-frequency vibrations; (5) electrostatic discharge; and (6) downwash. Reliability and maintainability tests showed that the CH-53E exceeded four requirements and failed to meet two others. Although identified missions can use the CH-53E's greater lift capabilities, there are problems associated with several missions, and certain other conditions should be met or considered before a full-scale production decision is made.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress and the Secretary of Defense should determine whether the additional capability provided by 49 CH-53E helicopters warrants the planned expenditure. The Secretary of Defense should determine whether the deficiencies identified have been satisfactorily resolved prior to the initial production decision and make sure that the operational testing is successful before the Navy is allowed to exercise the option to purchase the 14 fiscal year 1979 aircraft.

 

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