The Mission
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 re-plan 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.

General Characteristics
Builder: Sikorsky
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


Global Security Version for MH-53J PAVE LOW III

Global Security Version for MH-53M PAVE LOW IV

Wikipedia Version

Hurtlburt Field MH-53 PAVE LOW Fact Sheet

PAVE LOW Formation
Air Refueling
An MH-53M Pave Low IV helicopter from the 21st Special Operations Squadron refuels over South Africa from an MC-130P Shadow refueler from the 67th Special Operations Squadron. Both Squadrons are deployed to Air Force Base Hoedspruit, South Africa, to support Operation Atlas Response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cary Humphries) (RELEASED)