Shadowy Unmarked S-92 Superhawk Reemerges in Middle East Hotspot
Who exactly these gray, militarized Superhawks belong to, and who is using them remains a mystery.
A gray, unmarked S-92 Superhawk with military modifications, including what appears to be elaborate communications and self defensive suites, as well as a rescue hoist among other add-ons, was spotted last week in the northern Syrian border town of Kobani. Very similar, if not identical Superhawks were also spotted at America's Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti roughly 20 months ago. It remains unclear who these aircraft belong to, and what exactly their purpose is.
As detailed in my previous report, these aircraft could belong to a regional government, likely Saudi Arabia, although S-92s also fly for the governments of Turkey, Bahrain and Kuwait, but they have never been seen in this color scheme or configuration. The S-92s could also be used by the US State Department, CIA or another US agency. US Special Operations Command could also be contracting the helos for their unique needs, although they have plenty of other vertical-lift assets in the region at their disposal. Officially there are no S-92s flying operationally for the US Government today, but that doesn't mean a contractor or shell company isn't operating them on behalf of a US government agency. Eventually the S-92 will enter the Pentagon's inventory in the form of the VH-92A—the helicopter that is slated to replace the VH-60N and VH-3D as Marine One.
The location of the helicopter shown in the photo is also interesting, as just like Djibouti, there is a strong, and increasing US special operations presence in northern Syria. Kobani in particular was the site of fierce fighting in 2014 between ISIS and Kurdish fighters who, with the help of American air power, eventually routed the Islamic State from the town. Kobani was badly damaged in the fighting, but is now in the process of being rebuilt as many residents who ran from the fighting have begun to return home. A citizen-centric police force known as the Asayish patrol Kobani and many other towns in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region that makes up much of Northern Syria, also known as the "Rojava." The men in uniform seen standing in front of the helicopter in the picture are likely members of this indigenous security force.
Other mysterious S-92s have appeared elsewhere in the region, like this one that arrived in the Kurdish enclave of Erbil, Iraq, but not wearing the flat gray paint scheme and not as highly militarized as the one shown above or photographed on the Horn of Africa.
We'll just have to wait to see where these shadowy Superhawks pop up next or if more info as to their origin and mission finally comes to light.
Update: 3/19/17 6:15pm PST- Fellow TWZ writer Joe Trevithick reminded me that this same helicopter, or at least one identical to it, was also spotted last fall at a forward operating base near Kobani. According to satellite imagery, the base also serves Ospreys, Chinooks and Black Hawks.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com