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The Marines' New Heavy-Lift Helicopter May Be Worth Every Penny
The Marine Corps drew criticism this week over the costs of a program for its new heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion, amid reports that the rotary-wing platform will have a unit cost of $122 million per unit — 20% higher than previous projections.
But what’s happening is that a necessary and frankly worthwhile program is being inaccurately chastised, to the detriment of a worthwhile upgrade of a combat-proven asset for the Marines.
“The Marines Have a New Helicopter — and It Costs as Much as an F-35,” the Fiscal Times declared in in a March 21 headline. Comparing the costs of the new CH-53 to the F-35 involves some monkey math, though.
At its highest, the F-35B cost well over $200 million per unit. But production has ramped up, bringing costs down; the current per-unit cost of the F-35B — while still a whopping $122.8 million — has never been lower.
Similarly, by the time the CH-53K enters full production, the helo’s per-unit cost should dip below $89 million, Marine Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas, deputy commandant for programs and resources, said earlier this month, ultimately making any comparison between the two systems unfair and inaccurate.
But most importantly, we need to talk about the program’s need and effectiveness. When I was in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012, the CH-53 was so critical to combat operations it was the only squadron the Marine Corps kept two iterations of. The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) had a CH-53E Super Stallion squadron and a CH-53D Sea Stallion squadron. But both versions of the aircraft were decades old, but were incredibly busy across the theater of operations. Those platforms desperately need to be upgraded.
The new CH-53K King Stallion certainly seems to be an excellent iterative development of this combat-tested and combat proven platform. The new helicopter can hoist an external payload of more than 27,000 pounds, more than triple what the CH-53E could do. The old version, the CH-53E, was just barely too thin to hold a Humvee in its fuselage, the new helicopter can hold a Humvee.
It’s a critical platform for projecting power for the U.S. Marines. It can carry dozens of troops, gear, supplies, even other aircraft in austere environments, including launching from ships. There’s a lot of hay being made about the CH-53K becoming the U.S. military’s most expensive helicopter. Shouldn’t the largest and most technologically advanced helicopter in the U.S. military arsenal also be the most expensive?
Just before 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning 78 years ago, Lauren Bruner was preparing for church services and a date that would follow with a girl he'd met outside his Navy base.
The 21-year-old sailor was stationed as a fire controlman aboard the U.S. battleship USS Arizona, overseeing the vessel's .50-caliber guns.
Then alarms rang out. A Japanese plane had bombed the ship in a surprise attack.
It took only nine minutes for the Arizona to sink after the first bomb hit. Bruner was struck by gunfire while trying to flee the inferno that consumed the ship, the second-to-last man to escape the explosion that killed 1,177, including his best friend; 335 survived.
More than 70% of Bruner's body was burned. He was hospitalized for weeks.
Now, nearly eight decades after that fateful day, Bruner's ashes will be delivered to the sea that cradled his fallen comrades, stored in an urn inside the battleship's wreckage.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Joshua Kaleb Watson has been identified as one of the victims of a shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, CBS News reported.
The 23-year-old Alabama native and Naval Academy graduate was named to the Academy's prestigious Commandant's and Dean's lists, and also competed on the rifle team, Alabama's WTVY reported.
NAS Pensacola shooter railed against the US and quoted Osama bin Laden online hours before the attack
PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - The Saudi airman accused of killing three people at a U.S. Navy base in Florida appeared to have posted criticism of U.S. wars and quoted slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on social media hours before the shooting spree, according to a group that monitors online extremism.
Federal investigators have not disclosed any motive behind the attack, which unfolded at dawn on Friday when the Saudi national is said to have began firing a handgun inside a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.
NAS Pensacola shooter reportedly hosted a 'dinner party' to watch mass shooting videos the week before the attack
The Saudi military officer who shot and killed 3 people at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday reportedly hosted a "dinner party" the week before the attack "to watch videos of mass shootings," the Associated Press reports, citing an unnamed U.S. official.
The Minnesota National Guard has released the names of the three soldiers killed in Thursday's helicopter crash.