Super Stallions Serviced, Airlifted to U.S. 5th Fleet Area of
After six months of intensive work to ensure flawless operation,
Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) recently did what it does
best: returned two mission-ready Marine Corps CH-53Es Super
Stallion helicopters directly to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of
operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
The two helicopters were flown directly to the Middle East via
an Air Force C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft following their
overhaul at FRCSW. As these aircraft were delivered, two more
CH-53Es were dropped off at Naval Air Station North Island for
Ron Cobb, FRCSW Airframes Branch deputy product manager, said
work on the aircraft included fuselage frame structure repair;
replacing the skin, transition bulkhead, and cockpit floorboard;
accessory changes for structural enhancements, KAPTON electrical
wiring upgrade, and corrosion repair throughout the fuselage.
Scheduler Matt Stanley, a hub scheduler on the CH-53 Production
line, said the Super Stallions went through an integrated
maintenance program. “We do depot-level work on them like
major structural repairs, and we’ll usually have them for
about six months. And while they’re here, we’ll also
perform the organizational-level work (routine maintenance) which
is ordinarily done at the squadrons. So, we encompass all of it.
Then they’ll go back out in the fleet for 48 months, making a
complete 54-month cycle,” he said.
When preparing the aircraft for overseas flight, a total of six
personnel (military and civilians) perform shipment preparations
and usually take two and a half days per aircraft, Stanley
“Marines from (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar have
provided most of the manpower. We have assisted by putting the
helos in the hangars and running the overhead crane and things like
that,” he said.
Primary components of the aircraft that are removed for shipment
include: the main rotor and tail rotor blades; the main rotor head;
the tail rotor gearbox assembly; the external fuel tanks and bat
wings (a fearing assembly). The components are bundled to the body,
while the main rotor is shipped on a separate pallet.
Re-assembling a CH-53 may take up to two weeks –
considerably longer than the two and a half days it took to prepare
it for shipping, Stanley was quick to note.
“Taking something apart is usually easier than putting it
back together. As a result of having to put the larger pieces back
on it, they (assemblers) will have to do a complete ground check
and a functional flight check which will involve testing all the
systems and the performance of the aircraft,” he said.
Stanley said the two Super Stallions were the first helicopters
that FRCSW overhauled and returned directly to the 5th Fleet.
“We will induct ten CH-53Es for fiscal year 2007. For
fiscal year 2008, we will induct 13. So, we’re adjusting our
resources and manpower to meet the increasing tempo of our work to
service the customer,” said Stanley.