Sea Knights get new life with US State Department
US Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knights are getting a new lease of life through a collaborative programme with the US State Department it has been revealed.
Some 16 CH-46s are being converted for use by the State Department but that number could grow further to around 24.
'We are actively transferring CH-46E aircraft to the Department of State Air Wing based at Patrick Air Force Base (Florida) as the Marine Corps strikes them from inventory,' said John Thatch, PMA-226 International Program lead at the US Navy's Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).
'We are acting on their [State Department's] behalf to coordinate overhaul of everything, from the airframes to all the spare parts and components required to maintain them.'
According to officials from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) many of the components on the CH-46s are only 50% of the way through their life cycle leaving plenty of life in the aircraft for State Department use.
The State Department is also funding a modernisation design effort, which could include upgrades such as a glass cockpit, an optimised centre of gravity, increased payload, and crash attenuating seats in the cabin.
Thatch said the Fleet Support Team is in the initial stages of determining if the 50-year old aircraft's analogue instrumentation signals will be compatible with modern technology.
Many of the modifications being investigated by the State Department are the same modifications the Marine Corps would liked to have made to the type, but didn’t invest in because the CH-46 was a legacy aircraft being replaced by the more capable tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey.
Another project the State Department is looking into is adapting its S-61 aircraft to accept the same T58-GE-16A engine used in the H-46.
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