During the 1999 Kosovo crisis, more than 2.3 million pounds of cargo and 3,000 passengers were moved by the Navy's long-range heavy-lift helicopter, the MH-53E. The current Navy Helicopter Master Plan (HMP) calls for its retirement and replacement by the medium-lift MH-- 60S, but three-quarters of the Kosovo support sorties flown by the MH-53E exceeded the payload or range capability of the MH-60S. This article identifies where the MH-60S falls short in the heavy-lift mission and summarizes the effect of those deficiencies on the fleet.
Talk of the HMP usually centers on the cost savings associated with convergence to a common airframe. The benefits include material and training savings, greater parts availability, and common rework facilities. Absent from the plan is an explanation of how the helicopter community can continue to provide longrange, heavy-lift helicopter logistical support to the fleet.