Rheinmetall takes over maintenance of German CH-53G helicopters at Diepholz Air Base

Rheinmetall has won an order from the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) to inspect, maintain and repair its Sikorsky CH-53G transport helicopters. Starting in March 2021, the Düsseldorf-based Group will be operating two maintenance and repair bays belonging to the German Air Force’s 64th Helicopter Squadron at Diepholz in Lower Saxony. Worth a figure in the lower two-digit million-euro range, the contract with Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH runs for five years, with an option for a one-year extension.

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Rheinmetall takes over maintenance of German Air Forces CH 53G helicopter at Diepholz Air Base 1 Sikorsky CH-53G of the Bundeswehr, with a CH-53K of the U.S. Marine Corps on the ground (Picture source: Rheinmetall)

In Diepholz, the 64th Helicopter Squadron is responsible for larger maintenance operations in a separate remote squadron, with a total of five Bundeswehr-owned maintenance and repair bays for the CH-53G – a helicopter that has been operated by the Bundeswehr since 1972.

An integrated high-tech enterprise dedicated to security and mobility, Rheinmetall’s proposal won the tender, so that its subsidiary Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH (RAS) will soon be in charge of maintaining and repairing Bundeswehr helicopters in Diepholz. RAS will draw on organizational and aeronautical regulatory support from its sister company Rheinmetall Technical Publications GmbH, an approved aeronautical company located at Bremen Airport.

The Sikosky CH-53G in German service

The variant originally introduced into the Bundeswehr has the type designation CH-53G and is called the "medium transport helicopter" (MTH) in the Bundeswehr. It is based on the CH-53D. With the exception of the first two aircraft, all helicopters in Germany were built under license. On July 26, 1972, the “first” CH-53G was officially handed over to the army. A total of 112 helicopters were procured for the Bundeswehr.

After their introduction to the Bundeswehr, the CH-53 were assigned to the transport helicopter regiments of the Army Aviation. Most recently, the associations were divided between the locations Rheine-Bentlage (medium transport helicopter regiment 15 "Münsterland") and Laupheim (medium transport helicopter regiment 25 "Oberschwaben"). In Laupheim, a large-capacity rescue helicopter (GRH) is kept ready with a long lead time, while in Rheine a GRH, which was held in Mendig before the restructuring, was only available after the set had been equipped with a corresponding lead time. The medical staff is provided by the Bundeswehr Hospital Ulm and the Bundeswehr Central Hospital Koblenz. The Army Aviation Regiment 35 from Mendig, also a long CH-53 location, was dissolved in 2002 due to the restructuring of the Bundeswehr; the machines were distributed between the two remaining regiments.

As part of the realignment of the Bundeswehr, which began at the end of 2010 and which included the suspension of compulsory military service, the medium-sized transport helicopter regiments were dissolved and the army's CH-53 was handed over to the air force, which in return will not receive an NH-90. The location for the association called Helicopter Wing 64 (HSG64) is Laupheim. An air transport group of the squadron is stationed at Holzdorf Air Base. The handover appeal took place on December 13, 2012. 

The Bundeswehr has been deploying its CH-53Gs in a large number of missions abroad, among which IFOR, SFOR, KFOR, ISAF and the UN mission in Baghdad (Iraq).

Rheinmetall takes over maintenance of German Air Forces CH 53G helicopter at Diepholz Air Base 2 Sikorsky CH-53G of the Bundeswehr, with a CH-53K of the U.S. Marine Corps (Picture source: Rheinmetall)