This Slo-Mo Video Of MH-60M Spec Ops Helicopters Refueling At Sunset Is Glorious
This is some of the best footage we have seen of the 160th SOAR “Night Stalkers” and their specially modified Black Hawks in action.
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), better known as the Night Stalkers, and their tricked-out helicopters are notoriously shy, operating primarily at night. But the famed unit and their specially modified MH-60M Black Hawks took part in the Marine Corps' Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course capstone exercise in Arizona earlier this month. During the drills the Night Stalkers flew an aerial refueling mission at sunset, suckling gas from a KC-130J tanker, and the conditions couldn't have been better for some dramatic and downright beautiful video of the operation.
Weapons and Tactics Instructor courses are held at MCAS Yuma roughly every other quarter and aim to produce the best pilots in the world that have proven a mastery of combat aviation, tactics application, and battle planning. The marathon-like class lasts seven weeks, with its end culminating in a Large Force Employment (LFE) exercise planned and executed by the students. These capstone drills integrate some of the latest technologies in the Pentagon's quiver and can include guest units taking part in different elements of the grand operation.
As WTI graduate Major Brett McGregor of course 2-14 puts it:
“In order to capitalize on all the capabilities that [Marine Corps aviation] has, you have to bring everyone together in one location and plan and execute together... As a student, it is not a test to see how good they are at flying their aircraft, it’s a test to see how well you can fight with the MAGTF as a whole; how well you can fit into the team and be effective from the bigger picture."
Over the years WTI has grown to become one of the top air combat training events in the country, and is largely a more flexible and varying event than Red Flag and other well established large-scale training events. In some ways it is similar to the USAF's Weapons School final training exercises, but it also integrates ground force elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), which is the cornerstone of Marine Corps aviation.
In the latest iteration of WTI, which was executed at the start of October, the 160th SOAR and their Black Hawks were players. This resulted in the outstanding video below. The incredibly clarity and slow motion gives us a fairly unique view of these aircraft that seem to be more comfortable operating in the shadows than in the light. You can even see their extended booms wobbling around as they go about their business.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com