Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pave Low

The Sikorsky MH-53 Pave Low series is a long-range combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter for the United States Air Force. The MH-53J Pave Low III heavy-lift helicopter is the largest, most powerful and technologically advanced transport helicopter in the US Air Force inventory. The terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, forward looking infrared sensor, inertial navigation system with Global Positioning System, along with a projected map display enable the crew to follow terrain contours and avoid obstacles, making low-level penetration possible. The MH-53M Pave Low IV is a modified MH-53J with the Interactive Defensive Avionics System/Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal or IDAS/MATT. The system enhances the existing defensive capabilities of the Pave Low. It provides instant access to the total battlefield situation, through near real-time Electronic Order of Battle updates. It also provides a new level of detection avoidance with near real-time threat broadcasts over-the-horizon, so crews can avoid and defeat threats, and replan enroute if needed.

Sikorsky MH-53M Pave Low IV

The aircraft on display was assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron and its last flight was a combat mission in Iraq on March 28, 2008. During its 38-year career, this helicopter participated in many important missions. It carried the "command element" on the mission known as Operation Kingpin, to rescue American prisoners of war thought to be held at the Son Tay prison near Hanoi, North Vietnam. It is the last among the five HH-53s that participated in that raid. After Vietnam, it also flew in many more combat engagements including Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom before it was retired.

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