Rare video exposes U.S. Special Operations helicopters at work in north Iraq

A clip filmed with a smartphone shows a formation of Special Ops helicopters at work north of Baiji in Iraq.

Although the quality of the footage is pretty bad, the clip in this post, filmed by Iraqi forces north of Baiji, Iraq, is extremely interesting.

It shows a formation of four U.S. MH-60 and two MH-47E choppers, followed by two more Black Hawks, flying at very low level during a mission somewhere in Iraq.

The helicopters belong to the US Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) “Night Stalkers”, a Special Operations unit that has been quite active in the region since August 2014. More recently, the 160th SOAR took part in a “daring” raid to kill ISIS high level operative Abu Sayyaf,  in eastern Syria.

Here below you can find a couple of screenshots:


MH-47 over Iraq

Noteworthy the helicopters are not flying under the cover of night: returning from a raid or heading towards the target?

 H/T to @guidoolimpio for the link to the video


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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. Does anyone know if that’s a sunrise or sunset (help with direction they’re going)?

    Also how do you know they’re 160th? I didn’t see any markings, is there something unique about the a/c that you can tell from that footage? Just b/c they were flying low doesn’t automatically mean their 160th.

    • It’s hard to say: I’ve tried to find a detail that may help saying whether it was sunrise or sunset but nothing solid.

      Dealing with the 160th SOAR: it’s the only unit flying the MH-47E.

      • The MH-47E have the a2a refuelling probe system that can be seen in this video, also the 160th SOAR MH-60s have this system, but in the video these helicopters haven’t the probes. A mix of UH-60L escortet by MH-47E? However a very interesting testimony of US operation in Iraq.

  2. (I have no experience, just an interested reader) Personally, they could be returning from an operation as it does sound odd that they are flying at that time in the sunlight. You always hear about these Ops being conducted at night. So that’s what I am assuming.
    Tom Jones

  3. Can anyone transate…
    —- What is written over the picture?
    — What the cameraman and people nearby are saying?

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