Helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky first developed the CH-53 in the early 1960s for the use of the U.S. Marine Corps, with the first prototype taking off on October 14, 1964. It was a time of rapidly expanding transportation requirements for the German Armed Forces, and the old fleet simply couldn’t keep up. It became clear that the German Armed Forces were going to have to procure a new model, and in the end they opted for the CH-53, powered by two General Electric (GE Aviation) T64 engines. On July 26, 1972, the German Armed Forces officially took delivery of the first “medium-duty transport helicopters” (MTH) from an overall order of 112 aircraft. Though first delivered to the Army Aviation Corps, the aircraft have been operated by the German Air Force since 2010 following the reshuffle of the German Armed Forces.
From the beginning, MTU was on hand to ensure the safe operation of the T64 engines, which were produced between 1970 and 1975 in a collaboration between GE Aviation and Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz. In Munich, MTU was chiefly responsible for assembly and acceptance testing, and a total of 247 T64 engines were delivered. “These days, our work on the T64 focuses on maintenance. In the average year, 20 of these engines come through our doors for technical monitoring, repair or general overhaul,” says Florian Pulfer, Head of Program Management for Helicopter Engines—Service & Maintenance at MTU.