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USMC Expands CH-53 Refurbishment Program

By James T. McKenna | March 2, 2007

Pleased with the results of their decision to pull a half dozen Echos out of storage and refurbish them for combat, officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command and the U.S. Marine Corps have decided to do the same with several Delta model CH-53s to augment CH-46E Sea Knights in medium-lift missions. The program to resurrect the -53Es was thought to be somewhat risky, but two Marine squadrons recently started using the first two of six being refurbished and are reported to be pleased with them. The aircraft had been mothballed at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. for 12 years. A third refurbished Echo is nearly ready for the fleet. Three more in the desert await overhaul, but they were the last deemed suitable for refurbishment. The Marines have fewer than 36 CH-53Ds in its active inventory and is short by a dozen or more of the 228 CH-46E Sea Knights it needs for medium lift.—Richard Whittle

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