Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2011

MH-60K Sikorsky Black Hawk Helicopter

Task Force 160 of Fort Campbell, Kentucky — the Army's elite helo outfit — flies this heavily modified Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter. The pair used to carry Navy SEAL Team 6 to Osama bin Laden's Pakistan hideout in May 2011 had special stealthy modifications added to the choppers to make them quieter and less susceptible to radar detection. It also boasts terrain-following radar, a special defensive avionics suite to help it elude enemy detection, and blades mounted on the fuselage to slice through power lines that might bring down a standard chopper. A cover for the tail rotor — it's otherwise a flashing light for radar — as well as special fuselage trim and custom-crafted stabilators (the "rear wing" just underneath the tail rotor) suggested this was no stock MH-60K. That became crystal clear when photographs of one that had to be abandoned at bin Laden's compound began circling the globe. These Black Hawks can carry several different kinds of machine guns mounted at their side doors along with two crew chiefs to man those guns, a pair of pilots, and about a dozen troops.

For the inside story on America's military operations around the world, check out Mark Thompson's blog, Battleland: Where military intelligence is not a contradiction in terms.