This is one of a series of systems engineering case studies prepared by the Air Force Center for Systems Engineering. This case study analyzes the Sikorsky HH/MH-53 (iii) PAVE LOW series which has served as a long-range Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) and Special operations helicopters for the United States Air Force. The series consisted of advanced and upgraded models of the HH-53B/C Super Jolly Green Giant, which were derived from the CH-53A Sea Stallion flown by the U.S. Marine Corps. The HH-53B/C was initially developed to supplement the Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant in the CSAR role during the Vietnam War. After an extensive modification program to provide night/adverse weather capability, the aircraft was redesignated as the HH-53H PAVE LOW III. Later, after inheriting an additional role as a Special operations platform, it was redesignated the MH-53H. Upgrades in mission and defensive equipment for its expanded role produced the MH-53J PAVE LOW III Enhanced. The last and most advanced variant was the MH-53M PAVE LOW IV. After 29 years of service, the PAVE LOW fleet was retired in September 2008 and was replaced primarily by the Boeing MH-47E Special operations variant of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter flown by the U.S. Army.
The study provides a wealth of technical information about the aircraft and its complex history.
The Department of Defense is exponentially increasing the acquisition of joint complex systems that deliver needed capabilities demanded by our warfighter. Systems engineering is the technical and technical management process that focuses explicitly on delivering and sustaining robust, high-quality, affordable solutions. The Air Force leadership has collectively stated the need to mature a sound systems engineering process throughout the Air Force. Gaining an understanding of the past and distilling learning principles that are then shared with others through our formal education and practitioner support are critical to achieving continuous improvement.
Chapter 1 SYSTEMS ENGINEERING PRINCIPLES * 1.1 GENERAL SYSTEMS ENGINEERING PROCESS * 1.2 DOD DIRECTIVE 5000 SERIES * 1.3 EVOLVING SYSTEMS ENGINEERING PROCESS * 1.4 CASE STUDIES * 1.5 FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS * Chapter 2 PAVE LOW SYSTEM DESCRIPTION * 2.1 BACKGROUND * 2.2 AIR FORCE H-53 VARIANTS * 2.3 SPECIFICATIONS: MH-53J PAVE LOW III * Chapter 3 THE PAVE LOW STORY * 3.1 THE CHALLENGE OF NIGHT RESCUE * 3.2 THE RISE OF THE PAVE LOW * 3.3 PAVE LOW II AND III - DEVELOPMENT OF AN IN-HOUSE PROTOTYPE * 3.4 EXPANDING MISSIONS AND CAPABILITIES * 3.4.1 The Importance of Good Configuration Control * 3.5 SUITED TO THE TASK * 3.6 "PAVE LOW LEADS" * 3.7 PAVE LOW IV: THE LAST GENERATION * 3.7.1 MH-53MMission Capable Rate * 3.7.2 AN/AAQ-24(V) Directed Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) * 3.7.3 PLs Undergo Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) Enhancements * 3.7.4 Beating Brownout on the PL IV * 3.8 FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE "BONEYARD" * Chapter 4 CONCLUSION * Chapter 5 REFERENCES