U.S. raid in Syria supported by secret Stealth Black Hawk helicopters?

According to some sources, the evasive MH-X may have taken part in the raid that killed Islamic State member Abu Sayyaf.

In the night between May 15 and 16, U.S. Special Operations forces killed ISIS high level operative Abu Sayyaf, in a daring raid that took place in eastern Syria.

Little is known about the raid.

According to the CNN, the operation was conducted by U.S. Army’s Delta Force, which was carried to a residential building in Deir Ezzor, to the southeasth of Raqqa, by Army Blackhawk helicopters and Air Force CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

It’s pretty obvious many other assets were actually involved in the raid, including support assets providing electronic support to the intruding choppers and drones, as happened during Operation Neptune’s Spear, for the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

The presence of some Air Force Special Operations Command Ospreys during a raid against ISIS is not a first.

U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft probably based in Kuwait have already conducted missions in Syria and Iraq: on Jul. 3, 2014, some V-22 aircraft were used to carry Delta Force commandos to a campsite in eastern Syria where ISIS militants were believed to hold American and other hostages (that had been moved by the time the commandos attacked the site).

On Aug. 13, 2014, V-22s deployed military advisers, Marines and Special Forces on Mount Sinjar to coordinate the evacuation of Yazidi refugees.

What could really be a “first” is the possible involvement of the Stealth Black Hawk helicopter exposed by the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, back in 2011.

For the moment it’s just a hypothesis, but Homeland Security suggests that the Delta Force team were transported deep into ISIS-held territory “via presumably stealth equipped Black Hawk helicopters” of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) “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/DAP Black Hawks, A/MH-6M Little Birds, MH-X Silent Hawks (the latter is an unconfirmed designation for the Stealth Black Hawk), maybe stealthy Little Birds and stealthy Chinooks, as well as MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.

160th SOAR’s Black Hawk helicopters presence in the region was first unveiled after an unspecified variant belonging to the U.S. Army took part in an unsuccessful raid to free captured American journalist James Foley and other captives from ISIS in eastern Syria in August 2014.

Even though American aircraft have already demonstrated their ability to operate completely undisturbed well inside the Syrian airspace, we can’t rule out the possibility that the Pentagon, as done in 2011 when the time to kill Bin Laden arrived, considered the importance of the most recent raid against the senior ISIS leader and the failure of at least a couple previous raids, decided to commit the most advanced and secret Black Hawk helicopter to the delicate mission against Abu Sayyaf: the stealth variant.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Yet,as ISIS has NO anit-aircraft systems what-so-ever,appart from anti-aircraft guns, and Syrian Army has no reason to provoke US Airforce, it is hard to see why would they use such stealth helicopters.But then, they were using F-22 “as protection” in Syria…just to show cowboy big guns knowing that nobody is going to oppose them..Courageous..

    • If you were not ignorant on the subject, you would realize that the Syrian government strongly opposes US forces in their country. They have threatened to shoot down plenty of our aircraft, and they did with our MQ-1.

    • sorry to bust your bubble comrade but if you think Syria has no legitimate SAM systems then you haven’t been paying attention.

  2. @petrovic: Syrian government has long expressed their opposition and hostility towards american forces operating in the region against ISIS, mainly because the american government still refuses to cooperate with syrian government to combat ISIS, since the US would not acknowledge the legitimacy of the Assad government. The syrian has threaten to shoot down american aircrafts operating illegally in their airspace, and it will be within their rights under international laws. So yes, the USAF has every reason to fear syrian intervention jeopardizing these high-risk covert missions so deep under the syrian nose, not any less than they did in pakistan

  3. First of all, we know that ISIL has MANPADs, not just AA. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if they had some other forms of light SAMs either considering all of the military equipment they’ve captured in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

    Second, those platforms weren’t used to “show cowboy big guns”. They were used because we have them, we don’t trust the Assad regime, we know the Assad regime has a decent air defense network, and because it’s far easier to use them than conduct CSAR for a downed pilot. Not using them would be absolutely moronic.

    In warfare you do your best to eliminate Murphy’s Law as much as possible. It’s not about fighting fair. It’s about keeping your people as safe as possible.

    • I am not being sarcastic I actually mean this…

      One of the smartest things I’ve seen here for a while now.

  4. A million reasons. Potentially they staged everything with V-22’s and then did the official insertion with the Stealthawks.

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