About The Navy’s Largest Helicopter [MH-53]

YouTube / Sam Eckholm

The MH-53 Sea Dragon is one of the world’s biggest military helicopters. With a weight of over 40,000 pounds and spanning 100 feet in length, this thing is considered the King of the Sky. 

Here are the ten facts that you need to know about the Navy’s biggest helicopter: 

1. It has two primary missions

 The Sea Dragon is the dedicated AMCM platform of the Navy. It can do mine hunting, mine sweeping, and mine neutralization using different AMCM devices towed behind the aircraft. 

Its two main missions are Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) and Navy heavy lift/Vertical Onboard Delivery (VOD). Moreover, since it’s a heavy-lift helicopter, it can quickly transport troops and equipment from ship to shore. 

2. The MH-53 can hover safely above the sea 

It can drag a wide variety of instruments and machines through the water to trigger any mines in its path. 

3. This massive aircraft has impressive capabilities

 It can do the missions of humanitarian aid and cargo transport. The MH-53 has also been deployed all over the world. 

4. Because of the helicopter’s limited range and speed, it’s actually designed to fit in the back of the Air Force C-5 Galaxy

This can be done by taking off the rotor, tail blades, and folding in the tail. 

5. It’s 99 feet long, and 80 feet wide with the rotors

The length of the fuselage is 73 feet and 4 inches, and a max gross weight of 69,750 pounds. It can lift approximately 55 people or upwards of 30,000 pounds of cargo.  

6. It utilizes the Precision Navigation System (PNS) utilizing the Global Positioning System (GPS), Doppler radar, and an Approach/Hover/Tow Coupler

Moreover, communications inside the helicopter include Ultra High Frequency (UHF)/ Very High Frequency (VHF)/ High Frequency (HF) radios, secure communications capability, and Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF). 

7. It features fuel sponsons- on each side, there are two fuel tanks 

These fuel tanks hold approximately 20,000 pounds total of fuel. It’s great for over-water flying and can last about six hours of flight time. 

8. The instruments inside the plane may look like 90’s technology

In fact, they are- but according to Charlie Thomas, an MH-53 pilot, they’re proven to be reliable for the type of flights the HM-15 “Blackhawks” squadron of the US Navy does over water and afar. 

The HM-15 squadron is the squadron that flies the world’s largest military helicopters. 

For the crew, the helicopter is piloted by 2 pilots, and 1-6 aircrew depending on the mission. 

9. Another cool feature the MH-53 has is its ability to aerial refuel

The huge nozzle that extends out of the front of the helicopter is the fuel receiver- a big hose that could essentially connect to another aircraft mid—air. It allows fuel to be transferred from the tanker to the helicopter during flight. 

10. Currently, there are only 29 MH-53E aircraft in operation

This helicopter is currently out of production, and the Navy is still in the process of evaluating requirements for both AMCM and VOD missions. 

What do you think about this up-close look at the MH-53 Sea Dragon?