About a week ago I noticed a post over at The DEW Line talking about the appearance of a strange looking new aircraft in the vicinity of Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The plane looked, at first, like a new class of UAV. The fact that it was operating close to the home of the service’s U-2 and RQ-4 Global Hawk spy planes backed up this theory. It turns out the airplane is Northrop Grumman’s latest spy plane, the Firebird. The optionally-manned plane consists of a Scaled Composites-built airframe carrying everything from high-def video cameras and radars to electronic eavesdropping gear, according to a Northrop announcement.
The spy systems can be operated all at once or swapped out depending on mission needs.
From the announcement:
Firebird’s universal interface is similar to plugging a memory stick into a personal computer that is automatically recognized without needing to load additional software.
“Not only have we increased the number of ISR sensors working simultaneously in an aircraft of this size, but we can also incorporate various sensors that complement each other – greatly enhancing Firebird’s information-gathering value for warfighters,” said Rick Crooks, Northrop Grumman’s Firebird program manager. “Firebird is an adaptable system that makes it highly affordable because of the number of different missions it can accomplish during a single flight. It’s a real game changer.”
Now, the real question is, what’s it’s role in the market? The relatively slow, prop-driven plane will pretty vulnerable to all sorts of threats meaning it’s best suited for use in places where the U.S. controls the airspace such as Afghanistan. Northrop’s new plane resembles a beefed up, purpose-built version of MC-12 Liberty ISR plane flown by the U.S. Air Force in what can almost be described as a manned-UAV role in Iraq and Afghanistan. Demand for this type of aircraft that can carry a ton of sensors while staying aloft for hours is certainly growing around the globe. The Firebird can carry more than 1,200-pounds of payload and stay aloft for as long as 40 hours. Keeping the manned-option gives it some flexibility to be used in situations where having a pilot on scene is required. If Northrop can keep costs down, who knows, we may see the orders rolling in. The bird is set to fly in Joint Forces Command’s Empire Challenge exercise later this month. We’ll see how well it does there.
By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent
No one can dispute the huge success of the United States military and intelligence forces last week in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. SEAL Team Six eliminated an evil presence that posed a real threat to the United States. The digital data collected by those SEALs paints a compelling picture of the significant role Osama bin Laden played in planning and directing attacks by al Qaeda as well as its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. The intelligence contained on over 200 different devices and storage media is an unprecedented event in the history of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The analysis of the seized data has already yielded benefits. Not only did we discover threats to our rail systems, but we also gained a different view of bin Laden’s role in the global al Qaeda organization. Perhaps bigger successes await the world as the intelligence gained by the analysis of the hundreds, if not thousands of gigabytes of data seized in the raid is exploited.
Additional information about al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al Zawahiri was discovered and suggests he may not be bin Laden’s successor. Instead, Anwar al-Awlaki , a graduate of Colorado State, seems to be the most likely successor to lead al Qaeda. This is not good news when it comes to cyber terrorism! Awlaki is computer savvy and has leveraged the Internet in several ways to further al Qaeda’s goals and aspirations in the past.
Happy Kentuck Derby Day/Mother’s Day weekend.
Enjoy these links if you haven’t seen them already.
Air Force officials are linking the problems with the F-22 Raptor’s oxygen generating system to last November’s fatal crash of an F-22 in Alaska. Meanwhile the service has expanded the investigation into the oxygen systems to include other fighters and the T-6 Texan trainer.
Oh and I hope you’ve seen Osama bin Laden’s home videos which show the al Qaeda leader obsessing over media coverage of himself while swaddled in a blanket at his Pakistani hideout.
And lastly, check out this interesting report on China’s J-20 stealth fighter. It drops several conversation grenades, including the following:
The available data supports the proposition that the J-20, once fully developed, will be a high performance stealth aircraft, arguably capable of competing in most cardinal performance parameters (i.e. speed, altitude, stealth, agility) with the United States F-22A Raptor, and superior in most if not all cardinal performance parameters against the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
If the engines deliver 40,000 – 50,000 lb class thrust performance, the J-20 will be viable as an air combat fighter, air defense interceptor and deep strike fighter. If thrust performance falls below this benchmark, the aircraft would lack the agility for close air combat, but still be very effective as an interceptor or bomber.
The strategic impact of a mature production J-20, even if limited to strike roles alone, would be profound. With sufficiently good stealth performance to defeat air defense radars in the L-band through Ku-band, the aircraft could easily penetrate all air defense systems currently deployed in Asia. Even should the aircraft be tracked by a counter-stealth radar, the high altitude supersonic cruise penetration flight profile makes it extremely difficult to engage by fighter aircraft and Surface to Air Missiles. The only fighters deployed in the Pacific Rim with the raw performance to reliably intercept a supersonic J-20 are the F-22A Raptor and Russian MiG-31 Foxhound.
The size of the J-20 and resulting fuel fraction indicate that the aircraft will be able to cover the “First Island Chain” without aerial tanker support, and with tanker support, reach targets across the “Second Island Chain” on subsonic cruise profiles. Nearer targets would be accessible on supersonic cruise profiles .
The strategic choices available to the United States and its allies for dealing with the J-20 are very limited; such is the potency of all aircraft combining stealth and supersonic cruise capabilities. These distill down to the deployment of large numbers of F-22A Raptor fighters in the region, and the development and deployment of “counter-stealth” radars operating in the HF, VHF, and UHF radio-frequency bands. Funding for the production of the F-22A was stopped in 2009, following an intensive political effort by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. There is no program to fund the development and volume production of “counter-stealth” radars.
The incumbent U.S. Administration has thus committed itself politically to a path in developing air power for the U.S. armed services and allied air forces, predicated wholly on future opponents operating obsolete Soviet era air defense weapons and fighters. The unveiling of the Russian T-50 PAK-FA and Chinese J-20 over the last two years has not produced any significant changes in U.S. planning, which may challenge the United States and its Pacific Rim allies’ strategic advantage in conventional air power.
These images show an aircraft carrier that’s very close to being launched. Yup, they’re of the Chinese carrier Shi Lang (ex Soviet Varyag) and they clearly show what appear to be Active Phased array radars similar to those found on Aegis ships, rolling airframe missile defensive systems and other signs (including freshly painted Chinese lettering on the island, hot exhaust coming from the funnel and considerably less scaffolding than just a few months ago) of a ship that’s almost ready for sea trials. Also remember that China is about to field its own carrier-borne fighters.
Images via China Defense Blog.
This will make you not want to fly for a little while. It’s footage of a Tupelov Tu-154 airliner struggling to stay aloft amidst severe oscillations. It’s downright scary to watch. This was apparently the plane’s first flight after emerging from long term storage at an air base outside of Moscow. Well done to the pilots who eventually landed the plane safely. I have no idea how they did it.
For more info and video of the flight, click <a href=“here.
So the F-22 Raptor fleet has been grounded by Air Combat Command boss Gen. Robert Fraser due to problems with the aircraft’s oxygen generating system, the same flaw that has kept the jets restricted to flights under 25,000 feet since January. The system has been under investigation since shortly after the late November crash of an F-22 in Alaska. The total grounding was apparently due to numerous reports of pilots suffering from a lack of oxygen while flying the jet since the restriction was put in place. It should be noted that at 25,000 feet its almost impossible for an unacclimatized person to breathe normally. Capping flights at that altitude would theoretically allow a pilot to more quickly dive to a lower altitude where he could breathe without the oxygen system’s help. The jets have been gounded indefinitely until the problem is solved, according to numerous reports. If they’ve been looking at this since November, it has to be a pretty tricky problem. You can also be sure that speculation will emerge that problems with the oxygen generator system played a role in the Air Force’s much-discussed decision to keep the F-22s out of the fight in Libya.
While the Air Force says it could scramble F-22 crews in case of an emergency that warrants the need for the jets, pilots will train on simulators until the restriction is lifted.
We all know the mystery helicopter used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden was damaged in its crash landing and all but obliterated by U.S. special operators. All that survived intact was the tail section which was draped, in pretty good shape, over a wall in bin Laden’s compound. At least until Pakistani troops started moving it.
Here’s an amusing series of pictures showing the tail’s increasingly rough condition. The first pic, shown above shows the tail in its relatively ok condition hanging over the compound wall. From then on, things get a bit tougher for the tail. It finally ends up being nearly dragged through the streets of Abbottabad by a local tractor.
The tail about to be moved off the wall and flipped over:
Whoops, looks like that snapped off at least one additional rotor blade and may have damaged two others:
And yeah, those are some nice scuffs and possible dents to the stabilizer and its low-observable coatings:
I don’t want to know what happened to it after it was loaded onto the back of this truck, (er, tractor). You can clearly see what’s probably the tail’s outline beneath the blanket. Glad its being treated like the sensitive piece of military gear that it is. (Yes, I know they’re probably doing the best they can under the circumstances. Still, it sucks to see this thing damaged any more than it already was.)
So, there’s all sorts of speculation as to what type of secret chopper crashed at Osama bin Laden’s house on Sunday. Some say it’s merely an MH-60 with some design tweaks others think it might be a brand new helicopter. The photo above offers some tentative evidence that the bird might be based on the H-60 design. Look at the similarities in the rotor assembly of the wrecked helo and a standard Black Hawk and judge for yourself.
Thanks to commenter YanniT for providing the image.
Many other questions remain, in Sean Naylor’s great Army Times piece yesterday quoting a former special ops helo pilot saying this was a highly modified Black Hawk the pilot claims the stealth Hawks still had the mini guns found on regular MH-60s. Wouldn’t this compromise stealth, especially in a packed helicopter with little to no room to stow the guns internally? Furthermore, wouldn’t the landing gear need to be retractable? Meanwhile, the front sections of the fuselage and main rotor were likely modified as well. How would all of this impact the flight characteristics of the aircraft? I mean, the tweaks we’ve seen to the tail section alone (with the forward-swept stabilizer) likely impact flight performance. All these changes might even require more powerful engines. Maybe the chopper was based off the H-60 design but this many changes lead to an almost new aircraft.
I’m still skeptical, but Army Times’ ace reporter on all things special ops, Sean Naylor, used his very good source base to produce this piece saying that the secret helicopter that crashed during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was indeed a stealth version of the MH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopters that flew the Navy SEALs on the mission to kill Osama bin Laden were a radar-evading variant of the special operations MH-60 Black Hawk, according to a retired special operations aviator.
The helicopter’s low-observable technology is similar to that of the F-117 Stealth Fighter the retired special operations aviator said. “It really didn’t look like a traditional Black Hawk,” he said. It had “hard edges, sort of like an … F-117, you know how they have those distinctive edges and angles — that’s what they had on this one.”
In addition, “in order to keep the radar cross-section down, you have to do something to treat the windshield,” he said. If a special coating was applied to the windshield it is “very plausible” that would make the helicopter more difficult to fly for pilots wearing night-vision goggles, he said.
Here’s yet another shot of the bird’s tail.
According to Naylor’s piece, the modifications made to make the chopper stealthy could have contributed to the crash:
That crash landing might have been caused by a phenomenon known as “settling with power,” which occurs when a helicopter descends too quickly because its rotors cannot get the lift required from the turbulent air of their own downwash. “It’s hard to settle with power in a Black Hawk, but then again, if they were using one of these [low-observable helicopters], working at max gross weight, it’s certainly plausible that they could have because they would have been flying so heavy,” the retired special operations aviator said, noting that low-observable modifications added “several hundred pounds” to the weight of the MH-60, which already weighs about 500 to 1000 pounds more than a regular UH-60 Black Hawk.
Maybe this is a stealthed out MH-60 but I still think the modification required may hint at a basically new aircraft. More on this later.
I want to see a full on bird.
Here are some additional details from Naylor’s story:
This was to be expected, the retired special operations aviator said. “Certain parts of the fuselage, the nose and the tail had these various almost like snap-on parts to them that gave it the very unique appearance,” he said. He and another source referred to the disc-shaped device that is seen covering the tail rotor in the photographs as a “hubcap.”
If the radar-evading technology worked, it “would be a true statement” to say that the use of the low-observable Black Hawks was evidence that the United States gave Pakistani authorities no advance warning of the mission, the retired special operations aviator added.
The low-observable program started with AH-6 Little Bird special operations attack helicopters in the 1980s, said the aviator. During the 1990s U.S. Special Operations Command worked with the Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works division, which also designed the F-117, to refine the radar-evading technology and apply it to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s MH-60s, he said. USSOCOM awarded a contract to Boeing to modify several MH-60s to the low-observable design “in the ’99 to 2000 timeframe,” he said.
Initial plans called for the low-observable Black Hawks to be formed into a new unit commanded by a lieutenant colonel and located at a military facility in Nevada, the retired special operations aviator said. “The intent was always to move it out west where it could be kept in a covered capability,” he said.
USSOCOM planned to assign about 35 to 50 personnel to the unit, the retired special operations aviator said. “There were going to be four [low-observable] aircraft, they were going to have a couple of ‘slick’ unmodified Black Hawks, and that was going to be their job was to fly the low-observables.”
SOCOM canceled those plans “within the last two years,” but not before at least some of the low-observable helicopters had been delivered to the Nevada facility, the retired aviator said. “I don’t know if it was for money or if it was because the technology was not achieving the reduction in the radar cross-section that they were hoping for,” he said. In the meantime, MH-60 Black Hawk crews from the 160th’s 1st Battalion, headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky., would rotate to Nevada to train on the stealthy aircraft, he said.
Here you have it; the artists’ renderings of what the secret helicopter that crased during the raid to kill Osama bin Laden might look like have begun to surface. Since the only photos of the beast to emerge so far show only the tail section, the drawings are pretty much based on imagination and educated guesswork, but they’re still entertaining.
The first one, found on David Cenciotti’s blog, shows a chopper (we’ll call it the Stealth Hawk) that’s so souped up it’s pretty much a brand new helo save for the size and general shape. It makes the tricked out Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk look primitive in comparison.
Here’s another image found on the militaryphotos forum. It’s a bit more conservative, sticking the stealthy-looking tail found at bin Laden’s mansion onto a fairly standard H-60 airframe.
Enjoy and please send any other renderings you can find our way.
Here’s yet another take on what the bird could look like via the secretprojects forum:
And here’s the first Chinese take I’ve seen:
In all the excitement over the death of Osama bin Laden this week, we’ve chilled on our coverage of a perennial favorite topic here at DT; China’s military modernization.
Some great images over at China Defense Blog show the progression of the PLA from a mid-Cold War-looking army in the late 1990s to the 21st Century force that’s emerging today. No, the PLA can’t yet compare to the United States military but it’s damned impressive to see the progress it’s made in the last decade. Apply this to the PLAAF with its prototype J-20 stealth fighter and the PLAN which is about to field its first operational aircraft carrier; factor in China’s growing wealth and knowledge base and then guess where the Asian giant will be in another ten years.
The shot above is an image of the PLA’s new battlefield kit. The images posted below the jump are from an exercise just over ten years ago. Note how the soldiers are carrying Kalashnikovs and rocking very old-school uniforms. Soon, they may be carrying these and wearing these.
OK, here’s another view of the tail rotor from the crashed mystery helicopter used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. All I’ll say is that it sure doesn’t look like it came off even a modified MH-60 Black Hawk. It looks like a stealthy new aircraft.
Britain’s The Daily Mail newspaper may have unwittingly revealed a very, very significant clue as to how those MH-60s managed to penetrate Pakistani airspace during sunday’s mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The answer; the weren’t MH-60s, at least not regular MH-60s. The pictures above and below show what’s alledgedly the wreckage of that U.S. chopper that crashed in Osama’s compound due to mechanical problems. It sure doesn’t look like any variant of the Black Hawk that I’ve seen. Maybe it’s a new stealth version of the bird or maybe it’s an entirely new class of chopper. It could be both stealthy and fast enough to evade Pakistani air defenses that were apparently scrambled during the operation. (See our earlier post on how the RQ-170 Beast of Kandahar may have helped jam Pakistani air defense networks.) This also begs the question, who flies it? Does it belong to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment? Is it a secret Air Force Special Operations Command bird? Heck, maybe it’s a CIA chopper.
Yesterday, I posted the photo below of the tail section of the craft draped over a wall in Bin Laden’s compound. While it looked pretty much like a Black Hawk tail, I couldn’t for the life of me, figure out what the weird, flat piece of wreckage emerging from the tarp was. I just assumed that the airframe had been mangled badly enough that it looked weird. It could very well be some sort of shield designed to reduce the heat, noise or radar signature of the tail rotor. (The noise reduction efforts didn’t work all that well.) The possibility of a stealthy chopper being used in the raid explains why the Pakistani troops where in such a hurry to cover up all of the wreckage with blankets and cart if off so quickly. Who knows if this is the Pakistani cooperation White House officials said they received for the mission or if the PAF just scored a major tech boost. Good on Steve Trimble for spotting it and pointing out that now is the time to start speculating wildly about what type of bird this is.
Update: The Daily Mail has some additional photos of the wreckage here. The WSJ has these images. These shots appear to show that the SEALs and other American special operators were largely successful in destroying the fuselage of the chopper before Pakistani troops could secure the site. It looks like the tail section remained intact due to the fact that it was hanging over the compound wall, separated from the rest of the wreck. Oh, and check out these satellite images of the crash site. Here’s the latest image of the bird’s tail, it gives you a great sense of the overall tail assembly.
Here’s a question many readers have been asking; how did four helicopters, likely from the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, make their way inside Pakistan’s air defense intercept zone and carry out a 40-minute raid before the Pakistani military could react?
The answers are myriad. One theory in circulation is that the Predator drone reported to have been involved in the attacks wasn’t a Predator at all. Instead, it was the Air Force’s secret, stealthy-looking RQ-170 Sentinel better known as The Beast of Kandahar. The Sentinel famously earned its nickname after being spotted numerous times operating out of Kandahar International Airport in southern Afghanistan. When the Air Force finally acknowledged its existence, all it would say was that the drone was that is supports “combatant commander needs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to locate targets.” Still, many wondered why the air force was using such an advanced drone for this mission in a country where the U.S. enjoyed total air superiority. Can’t regular drones handle ISR missions in Afghanistan? Theories abound that the stealthy-looking plane is actually being used to snoop on neighboring Iran or Pakistan. Some have even postulated that the numerous humps found along the airframe house a variety of electronic warfare gear, the type of gear that could be used to confuse Pakistani air defenses during a raid like the one on Sunday. As Steve Trimble at the DEW Line notes, it may have also been used to provide the White House and other mission planners with real time video of the raid.
Or maybe, the plane is just in Afghanistan to be field tested in more realistic conditions than those found over the Nevada Test and Training Range, as some say. This leaves other possibilities as to how the U.S. snuck up to 80 men into a garrison town a little more than 30-miles from Pakistan’s capitol. Could it be, the “cooperation” that White house officials say Pakistan provided on the mission included turning a blind eye to the four helos and one drone? Still, the New York Times is reporting that Pakistani troops were scrambled upon literally hearing the commotion going on in Abbottabad. ABC news also reports that Pakistani fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the American choppers. They obviously didn’t arrive in time to do anything about the mission.
Boeing’s Phantom Ray stealthy UAV demonstrator made its first flight last week out of Edwards Air Force Base. The fighter-size Phantom Ray is derived from Boeing’s unsuccessful X-45 bid for the Navy’s unmanned combat air system demonstrator program. Boeing engineers were undaunted and decided to tweak the X-45 design and continue developing the bird on the company’s own dime.
The plane made its premiere flight out of Edwards Air Force Base in California on April 27, when it flew to 7,500 feet and reached a speed of 178 knots. This flight along with upcoming ones was to prove that the plane is airworthy, engineers will gradually push the plane higher and faster and have it perform more complex manuvers to ensure that it works as designed. Once this is done, Boeing will start testing the plane’s ability to do everything from conduct ISR and close air support missions to electronic warfare and autonomous mid-air refueling. Keep in mind that this is the second airplane designed to do these things that’s already in flight test. Northrop’s X-47, the victor in the UCAS contest, entered flight test earlier this year and will be flying off carrier decks in the coming years.
Boeing’s Phantom Ray program manager said it best when he described how stealthy, unmanned combat drones are here, in a big way.
“The first flight moves us farther into the next phase of unmanned aircraft,” said Craig Brown, Phantom Ray program manager for Boeing. “Autonomous, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft are real, and the UAS bar has been raised. Now I’m eager to see how high that bar will go.”
Now that the flood gates are open, we may see these highly advanced UAVs make their combat debut much quicker than we expected. Heck, the Air Force is already flying one stealthy-looking UAV in Afghanistan. Some even speculate that it played a role in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday. If they’ve got that bird flying publicly, I guarantee you they’ve got a host of similar yet more advanced projects flying in the black world.
A variety of factors could have led to the crash or “hard landing” of one of the helicopters that helped carry out the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden yesterday. First off, we’ve heard reports that the choppers used in the raid, which apparently involved a total of about 40 operators, were a mix of MH-60 Black Hawks and MH-47 Chinooks. Both of which are flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The AFP picture above shows what appears to be the tail section of an MH-60 draped over a wall at Bin Laden’s compound. There are still no reports of U.S. casualties during the raid, which is impressive given the image above.
A mix of Black Hawks to carry in the initial assault teams (roughly 24 SEALs) and the larger Chinooks to bring in supporting troops as well as carry away any prisoners makes sense. Keep in mind that the crew and passengers of the downed chopper had to pile onto another bird (probably a Chinook) to make their exit.
In any case, a chopper on final approach to a raid insertion could have been forced down by small arms fire (a lucky shot to the gearbox), brownout conditions where dust kicked up from the rotor wash interfere with the pilot’s ability to see, or it could have clipped some of the nearby power lines you can see in these pictures of the site (although there don’t appear to be any downed lines) or a combination of all factors. Or maybe, it really was mechanical failure. Keep in mind the raid was conducted around 1:00 in the morning so they were using night vision goggles. This goes to show just how tough missions like this are, even for the pilots of the 160th, whose skills are legendary in the helo community. Those pilots have also had weeks, at the minimum, to practice the mission at a site that was built to reflect the compound and its environs. So they probably knew where any potential obstacles were and how to avoid them.
By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent
Technology plays a significant role in our military defenses as well as our intelligence collection and analysis. This is the case not just in the hybrid cyber domain, but also in traditional military conflict. Universities around the world are conducting cutting edge research that will evolve and set the stage for the next technological breakthrough. Companies ranging from the very large multi-billion dollar firms to start-ups are busy creating the next generation of weapons and intelligence systems with untold capabilities that cut across all five domains of conflict. These companies must inspire their designers and engineers to:
- Generate new ideas, products, methods and processes
- Leverage models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
- Recognize meaningful trends and forecast possibilities –that create a vision of the future
I was asked if technology innovation and creativity should be a national priority given their importance to the economy and national security; the answer is without question YES! Where will this innovation come from? It is anyone’s guess at this point. The top five most innovative countries are listed below.
- United States
- South Korea
The United States faces a huge challenge with cyber in particular. In order to achieve the level of innovation and creativity needed today we must give our designers and engineers permission to fail sometimes. This runs counter to our current management philosophy. Without this permission, designers and engineers will play it safe and we will not see the breakthroughs necessary for revolutionizing our economy and for the United States to stay #1.
So, here’s the updated location of Bin Laden’s compound. Notice just how close it is to Pakistan’s version of West Point, the Pakistan Military Academy.
And above and below are shots of what an anonymous reader claims (who added a ‘trust but verify’ caveat) are images of the actual assault that killed the terrorist mastermind. You may have seen them already, I’m not sure how fast these pictures are making the rounds on the Internet. I’m pretty darned skeptical of this claim as we have no way of verifying them and they look just like countless other missions conducted throughout the Af-Pak region over the past few years.
Oh, and a quick Google search of the images says that some of the pictures are at least two days old. The operation that killed Bin Laden happened on May 1.
Furthermore, as Christian Lowe, editor of DT’s sister site Kit Up! points out, the scenes in these images look a little too rural and it looks like the some of operators are “wearing straight up BDU camo, not AOR 2 or a SEAL-specific pattern.” Still, the chopper shown in the shot above does appear to be an MH-47, so these are likely scenes from some type of SOF raid or exercise. There are also what appear to be poppies in one of the pictures, so we can be fairly certain it was taken in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Enjoy and let us know what you think; any more input as to the authenticity or inauthenticity of these images is appreciated. If anything, let the pictures be a tribute to the unknown operators who pull off this type of mission on a fairly regular basis around the world.
Click below for more images.