Night Stalker | 5 Special Operations soldiers killed in Eastern Mediterranean crash
Defence Redefined
Published on 15/11/2023 at 12:02

The US Army has identified five soldiers who were killed in a helicopter crash in the Eastern Mediterranean on Friday, according to a Monday announcement from the US Army Special Operations Command.

The five soldiers were assigned to the “Night Stalkers” unit, which operates with MH-60 Blackhawk special configuration and belongs to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The 5-member unit was on a training mission, according to the statement.

Specifically, the MH-60 Blackhawk was conducting aerial refuelling training, when the aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency resulting in the crash, the statement reports.

The Pentagon has not released any additional information on the recovery operation for the helicopter. The US Navy assisted with the search with three P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117), according to the US European Command.

Regarding the said MH-60 Blackhawk, it belongs to the US Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as Night Stalkers. This variant is packed with specialized systems to help them perform critical missions under the most demanding conditions.

The systems that stand out the most are the helicopter’s terrain-following/terrain avoidance radar, its AN/ZSQ-2 sensor turret along with the AN/APQ-187 Silent Knight radar. 

The terrain-following/terrain avoidance radar is an essential tool, which allows to safely fly extremely low altitude nap-of-the-earth flight profiles, even in poor weather and at night, and keeps the system away from enemy air defences.

The AN/ZSQ-2 turret has electro-optical and infrared full-motion video cameras as well as a laser range finder. There are also adapters for firearms as well as the capability to carry Hellfire anti-tank missiles, 70 mm Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS II) rockets, etc.

Also read: Sikorsky and DARPA test Black Hawk in autonomous flight – VIDEO

Another system worth mentioning is the Degraded Visual Environment Pilotage System (DVEPS), which uses a combination of cameras and LIDAR, linked to a terrain database, to help the crew navigate through dust, sand, snow, fog, and other ‘degraded’ environments.

Further, the system incorporates an array of self-protection systems such as laser warning sensors as well as elements of active jammers and other electronic warfare systems, complemented by flares and chaff dispensers.

In addition to this, the MH-60Ms are equipped with the new Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) system. This is a directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system that uses laser beams projected through a pair of turreted beam directors to blind and confuse the seekers on infrared-homing missiles.

These helicopters are considered to be the ultimate modified Black Hawks.

Also read: Firefighting helicopters | The night flight capabilities of the Sikorsky S-70i FIREHAWK®




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