With 80 CH-53 heavy transport helicopters in service, the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, has the largest helicopter transport capacity in Europe. But the 110 machines ordered in 1971 and delivered from 1973, now bear the weight of the years, despite the modernization program carried out between 1990 and 2001. This is the reason why, in November 2018, the German parliament validated the program " schwerer Transporthubschrauber“, Or STH, intended to acquire between 45 and 60 new heavy helicopters which will be delivered between 2023 and 2029, the CH-53 to leave the service in 2030.
As in 1971, the competition today opposes the latest versions of the CH-53 from Sikorsky, and the CH-47 from Boeing. Sikorsky has joined forces with German Rheinmetall for this program, and offers the CH-53K King Stallion, the ultimate version of its aircraft which made its first flight in 1964. But the new aircraft has little more than name and appearance in common with his illustrious ancestor. Indeed, the CH-53K integrates all the most modern technologies applied to rotary wings, including electric flight controls allowing, among other things, to considerably relieve the work of the crew concerning piloting, to concentrate on driving. mission. The new aircraft proposed by Sikorsky and Rheinmetall is, moreover, optimized to integrate into the German logistics chain, with the ability to directly embark the pallets of C-130J and A400M aircraft in service in the Luftwaffe, as in the French Air Force. This capability makes it possible to speed up logistics flows, especially when transport devices cannot land near the forces.[Armelse]
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