Legendary U.S. Army Special Operations Force gets MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones
In May 2011, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) used two stealthy MH-X “Silent Hawk” (or Stealth Black Hawk) to infiltrate and exfiltrate U.S. Navy SEALs during the Osama Bin Laden raid.
At that time, nobody knew a radar-evading version of the Black Hawk helicopter existed. However, it was not such a big surprise that such an advanced weapons system was already in the hands of the aircrews of the legendary 160th SOAR, also known as “Night Stalkers”.
The U.S. Army special ops force provides support for both general purpose and special operations forces. They fly MH-47G Chinooks, MH-60L/K Black Hawks, A/MH-6M Little Birds, MH-X Silent Hawks (the latter is an unconfirmed designation) and maybe stealthy Little Birds and stealthy Chinooks as well.
160th SOAR mainly operate at night (hence their name) in attack, assault, reconnaissance, infiltration and exfiltration, and any kind of known or unknown special operations you may imagine.
Since Nov. 19, the Night Stalkers have welcomed the first MQ-1C Gray Eagle.
Gray Eagle is an advanced derivative of the Predator specialized in providing direct operation control by Army field commanders. It can fly Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); convoy protection; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection as well as providing live aerial imagery to ground patrols carrying also PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).
160th SOAR recently formed E-Company will receive 12 Gray Eagle which will strengthen the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC) fleet of smaller RQ-11B Raven and RQ-7 Shadow UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) giving the Night Stalkers autonomous ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) and attack capabilities over a larger area of interest.
Image credit: U.S. Army