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Sikorsky MH-60 Black Hawk


Sikorsky MH-60 Black Hawk
From the chaotic skies over Somalia during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, to the covert operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Black Hawk helicopters are among the deadliest, most effective tools available to any modern military. After its experiences in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, the US military knew just how essential it was to have tough, multi-role helicopters available. Not only were these aircraft useful for rapidly transporting combat personnel to and from battlefields, they could even remain on the front line to provide direct support. However, the existing Huey helicopters were out of date. Two US companies, Boeing Vertol and Sikorsky, went head-to-head with their rival designs for the new combat helicopter, with the latter finally winning the contract with its S-70 prototype. Since the model first took to the skies in 1974, a huge number of variants have gone into production, each with its own specific role to play in a combat zone. For instance, the secretive ‘MH-X’ version – used during the mission to kill Al-Qaeda’s chief – was rumoured to be equipped with stealth technology, making it almost undetectable to radar.
The MH-60 variant seen here was developed from the standard UH-60 Black Hawk for use during special operations. The machine’s effective range was greatly increased with the addition of a more efficient fuel tank, the installation of systems for aerial refuelling, and the improvement of the craft’s overall survivability. It was during a special operation that these assets would be put to the ultimate test, an incident known as Black Hawk Down.
Sikorsky MH-60 Black Hawk,  The Battle of Mogadishu


The Battle of Mogadishu
On 3 October 1993, American Rangers flew into Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to capture a wanted terrorist leader. They swooped down on the target’s base in a convoy of helicopters, with MH-60 Black Hawks hovering overhead to provide support. However, when two of these aircraft came under fi re, they crash-landed into the maze of streets and alleyways below. What was supposed to be a smooth operation soon turned into chaos as soldiers battled through the streets to reach the downed aircraft and their stricken crew. The ensuing battle is now most famously known as Black Hawk Down, due to the 1999 book of the same name, which was adapted into the 2001 Oscar-winning film.