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The Navy asked RAND to conduct a quick assessment of different heavy-lift (HL) aircraft alternatives and to assess the survivability such aircraft against different threats. The Navy and Marine Corps have used helicopters since the 1940s. As helicopters have gradually become larger and gained cargo capacity, they have been able to carry more and heavier cargo, including vehicles, from a ship to a site onshore and from ship to ship. An HL capability would be especially valuable when access to on-shore facilities is limited. But there are other issues, survivability being first among them. The authors assessed these and related matters and offered the Navy several options; all involve the CH-53X helicopter and some exploration toward a new HL aircraft. The degree of interest in the new aircraft would be influenced in part by such issues as whether or not its capabilities are really needed and are affordable; whether today’s ships can even accommodate such large aircraft; and whether, in a joint environment more than one service can agree on the design and funding for it.

The research described in this report was prepared for the United States Navy. The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

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