PAVE LOW Factsheet
The Pave Low’s mission is low-level, long-range, undetected penetration into denied areas, day or night, in adverse weather, for infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces.
The MH-53J Pave Low III heavy-lift helicopter is the largest, most powerful and technologically advanced helicopter in the 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 J-model that has been modified with the Interactive Defensive Avionics System/Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal or IDAS/MATT. The system enhances present 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 en route if needed.
Under the Pave Low III program, the Air Force modified nine MH-53H’s and 32 HH-53s for night and adverse weather operations. Modifications included forward-looking infrared, inertial global positioning system, Doppler navigation systems, terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, an on-board computer, and integrated avionics to enable precise navigation to and from target areas. The Air Force designated these modified versions as MH-53J’s.
Power Plant: Two General Electric T64-GE/-100 engines
Thrust: 4,330 shaft horsepower per engine
Length: 88 feet (28 meters)
Height: 25 feet (7.6 meters)
Rotary Diameter: 72 feet (21.9 meters)
Speed: 165 mph (at sea level)
Ceiling: 16,000 feet (4,876 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 46,000 Lbs (Emergency War Plan – 50,000 Lbs)
Range: 600 nautical miles (unlimited with aerial refueling)
Armament: Combo of 7.62 miniguns (x3) or .50 Cal machine guns (x3)
Crew: 2 Pilots; 2 Flight Engineers; 2 Aerial Gunners
Date Deployed: 1981
Unit Flyaway Costs: $40 million (fiscal 2001 constant dollars)
Air Force Inventory: Active Duty force, 13 MH-53J’s, 25 MH-53M’s; AFR & ANG, 0