Marines complete CH-53E maintenance overhaul, increasing fleet readiness
Four CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft recently completed an extensive maintenance process, known as RESET, allowing for additional aircraft to return to the fleet.
RESET is a period of dedicated maintenance that re-baselines all squadron-level inspections; replaces high-time components; and delivers a leak-free, Full Mission Capable (FMC) aircraft with zero awaiting-maintenance discrepancies back to the warfighter.
The CH-53E helicopter is mainly used for heavy-lift cargo and can lift every Marine aircraft except the KC-130. It has been a powerful workhorse for military operations for more than 30 years. Currently, there are 142 CH-53E Super Stallions in service.
“The CH-53E has seen more work than was ever anticipated it would see,” said Lt.Col. Matthew “Rusty” Baumann, CH-53 Heavy Lift Program Office in-service lead. “In fact, the aircraft reached a major milestone last year by logging more than one million flight hours since it first entered service with the Marine Corps in 1981.”
Thirty-five percent of the fleet aircraft have been inducted into the RESET process with 14 CH-53E aircraft currently at five different sites on any given day around the world. The two most recent deliveries of a Super Stallion back to the fleet were the 34th and 35th aircraft to complete RESET. One aircraft was delivered on May 1, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Another aircraft was delivered to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, on May 29.
“The team has done an incredible job and we are continuing to see aircraft being returned to the fleet even during these difficult times,” said Baumann. “Accomplishing RESET in this COVID-19 environment takes a dedicated, combined team effort.”
The employees conducting RESET are considered essential personnel. They have adapted to the new normal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and distancing requirements.
“On-aircraft maintenance, inspections, repairs, ground turns and functional check flights were conducted safely while wearing required PPE and maintaining social distancing as much as possible in the close confines of working on an aircraft,” said Ron Dominiecki, H-53 RESET/modification integrated product team lead.
All combined, completed aircraft have amassed in excess of 16,815 flight hours. The return on investment for RESET includes decreased maintenance man hours per flight hour, a reduction in cost per flight hour, increased monthly utilization, a stimulated and more responsive supply chain and, most notably, a higher state of readiness for the RESET fleet.
RESET is vital to sustain the fleet until the transition to the new heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion, the most powerful helicopter ever built by the U.S. military. The King Stallion is scheduled to begin replacing the CH-53E in 2023-24 timeframe.