MH-6 Little Bird and MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters involved in a urban training exercise in downtown Los Angeles.
U.S. Army helicopters are conducting realistic military urban training in the greater Los Angeles and Long Beach areas, California, until Feb. 9, 2019 (most probably “observed” by a U.S. Navy P-8 that circled over LA area several hours on Feb. 4)
For this reason, images of 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) “Night Stalkers” MH-6s and MH-60s flying between the buildings in downtown LA have started to emerge on social networks. They show the Army helicopters (especially the MH-6M, the helicopter you may remember landing on the roof of the Olympic Hotel in the book and movie “Blackhawk Down” when the secretive Special Forces Operational detachment- Delta assaulted the building) flying low over DTLA streets to infiltrate and exfiltrate troops and dogs as part of a training mission that reportedly simulated the assault and take over of an abandoned building.
— Mario Mercado (@mmercad4) February 5, 2019
As already reported in a previous special story the “Night Stalkers” unusual helicopters are readily identifiable during the day. They are painted flat black instead of the more common olive green color and have almost no visible markings. During night flying, the choppers are completely blacked out and only a single red light is usually visible on the tail of the aircraft.
Here’s what we wrote about the helicopters flown by the “Night Stalker” commenting some photographs of their training activities near Virginia Beach, Virginia: “the U.S. Army’s 160th SOAR specializes in night flying at low altitude for clandestine insertions into denied areas. Aircraft flown by the Nightstalkers have an exotic communications and sensor suite on board accounting for the massive number of antennae and vision systems protruding from the helicopters. The MH-60M Blackhawks have a dazzling array of special secure radios, sensors and satellite communications on board. They include the AN/ARC-201D single channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS), four onboard Raytheon AN/ARC-231 Skyfire radios, two of them equipped with satellite communications capability, two AN/ARC-220 high frequency radios, an MTX Blue Force Tracker to prevent accidental friendly fire engagements. The nose of the MH-60M also features the Raytheon AN/APQ-187 SilentKnight radar for terrain-following at low altitude at night and the Raytheon AN/ZSQ-2 EOSS electro-optical (EO) and infrared (FLIR) cameras for night vision. Nightstalker pilots are also the most proficient aviators in the world at dangerous low-altitude, night vision goggle flying.”
In April 2012, simultaneous training missions over downtown Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. reportedly saw 160th SOAR helicopters in low flight patterns between buildings in all four cities. More recently, in April 2018, some MH-60s and MH-6s helicopters belonging to the U.S. Army’s elite “Night Stalkers” carried out a series of exercises in New York City. Similar scenes were filmed over Lower Manhattan during flights that saw the helicopters, flying at night between skyscrapers or during daylight underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC.
The activity currently taking place in LA area is hence part of the standard training of the Night Stalkers that have to carry out attack, assault, reconnaissance, infiltration and exfiltration, and any kind of known or unknown special operations you may imagine.
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) February 6, 2019
Indeed, the “Night Stalkers” are quite famous for the raid to capture Osama bin Laden, Operation Neptune’s Spear, on May 1, 2011. During that raid, the unit flew a classified, low-observable variant of the Blackhawk helicopter that has since been popularly referred to in speculation as the “MH-X Stealth Black Hawk” or “Silent Hawk”. Images of part of the secret helicopter were seen around the world when one of them crashed inside Bin Laden’s compound during the raid, leaving the tail section visible. Books and media accounts suggest only two of the aircraft were ever produced. During the years we have also speculated about the existence of stealthy Little Birds and stealthy Chinooks as well.
— stu mundel (@Stu_Mundel) February 6, 2019
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment is a highly-specialized combat aviation unit headquartered at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky that supports elite U.S. and coalition combat units like Army Special Forces, Naval Special Warfare (SEALs) and other special operations units. They fly MH-47G Chinooks, MH-60L/M/K Black Hawks, A/MH-6M Little Birds and, since Nov. 19, 2013, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, 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).